How Counselling Therapy can Help Manage Chronic Pain
It may seem odd to get counselling for chronic pain management. Read on to find out why it may be a good idea to consider skilled counselling for pain management.
Has chronic pain taken your life away?
Are you noticing that you are slower, stiffer and more limited in your lifestyle, and it is not just age that is slowing you down?
It can feel awful and isolating to notice that pain is taking more and more of your freedom. Maybe the pain is from an accident or injury or something that has increased slowly over the years. Either way is take a toll on your zest for life, it can isolate you from friends and family, and it can be depressing.
Everyone experiences pain from time to time. Chronic pain is when that pain is not an event that comes to and end, but the pain continues. Perhaps with ebbs and flows, but the pain is more or less a new reality in your life – like an unwanted house guest!
Certainly, when a person experiences chronic pain, the first thing to do is bring it to one’s physician so it can be medically assessed, monitored and managed. As Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. says, “Pain is like the oil light on your body’s dashboard telling you that something desperately needs attention,” Dr. Teitelbaum, M.D., is the medical director of the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers. So, it just makes sense to bring the pain to the attention of one’s physician to identify what is causing the pain and see what can be done to manage it medically.
What is the Role of Counselling in Chronic Pain Managment?
Fortunately, there are often more pathways to successfully manage chronic pain. The American Chronic Pain Association states that alternative therapies often lessen the need for medications and other more invasive procedures. Alternative therapies moderate exercise, progressive relaxation and guided imagery, acupuncture and acupressure, biofeedback and EMDR, and cognitive behavioral therapy. Some of these therapies are helping the body to send less pain signals to the brain, where pain is registered. Others of these therapies work through the mind itself to change the way the pain signal arriving from the body is processed in the brain. These counselling therapies can be very helpful alongside medical management of chronic pain. This article will address some of these alternate therapies for pain management.
These forms of chronic pain management also allow people to take a more active role in pain management.
Regular exercise and physical therapy are usually part of any pain management plan.
It is well established that light to moderate exercise is critical in the relief of pain. A large percentage of pain comes from tight muscles. These may be triggered by overuse, inflammation, or other conditions.
Regular exercise is important for treating chronic pain because it helps:
- strengthen muscles
- increase joint mobility
- improve sleep
- release endorphins
- reduce overall pain
Relaxation techniques are often recommended as part of a treatment plan. You may find some of the information and approaches related to anxiety management can be very helpful.They help to reduce stress and decrease muscle tension. Relaxation techniques include:
Some people find Yoga also has other benefits for chronic pain. It can help strengthen muscles and improve flexibility.
Acupuncture and acupressure
Acupuncture and acupressure are types of traditional Chinese medicine. They relieve pain by manipulating key points of the body. This prompts the body to release endorphins which can block messages of pain from being delivered to the brain.
The late Dr. John Sarno spent his career treating chronic back pain and claims to have brought relief to many, many people without expensive, invasive surgery. Briefly, Dr. Sarno maintained that some cases of chronic pain are best understood in terms of an interaction between the mind and body creating real, genuine pain symptoms. Particularly, that the brain is attempting to be helpful by distracting the person from painful and distressing emotions by generating back pain. Again, the pain is real. But the pain is psychogenetic. You can read a popular article on Dr. Sarno here.
As with any medical issue, it is critical to primarily be under the care of your family doctor. Don Russell can bring other resources and approaches to complement you medical care.
Photo credit: Gisela Giardino. Used under license