Chronic Pain Management Techniques: 4 Natural Tools
by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)
Just like other baby boomer women, I have been living with chronic pain for over a decade. Hey, there are so many things that catch up with us after all those years of going full throttle, that it’s difficult to slow down and learn something new, like meditation. However, you should try these natural pain management techniques if you suffer from migraines, arthritis, fibromyalgia, back problems or any of that other fun stuff that catches up to us as we get older.
Relax. The pain is all in your head... It sounds silly, but it's true.
Control Your Pain With Natural Techniques
Pills are expensive and pills suck. Relaxation methods work just as well without the horrible side effects.
New research by Dr. Sean Mackey, chief of the Pain Medicine Department at Stanford University, shows that pain really is “in your head”. So, you can turn down the pain “volume” by experiencing your pain in a different way. Dr. Mackey believes we can mitigate pain with meditation, hypnotherapy, and visualization.
The following ideas are similar to the techniques that many of us learned in Lamaze classes. Well, Lamaze worked for me for a few hours of labor, but then I had a C-section, so I didn't get the full experience, however I am giving self-hypnosis and breathing techniques another try. What have I got to lose?
And, if you’re in pain, what have you got to lose?
Even if you still need to take a few painkillers, all of the zen-like, non-pharmaceutical alternatives on this list will make it so you don’t need to gulp down as many pills. So, here are four mind-body techniques that will help you get your life back.
If you try these ideas in the privacy of your own home... there's no one around to laugh at you if you feel silly. Just make sure you do everything carefully and you go slowly. And, I hope you have someone to call if you can't get back up.
As always... I am not your doctor... I am not a yoga specialist... If your pain gets worse, talk to a professional.
1. Guided Imagery for Chronic Pain
All of these techniques are from an article called “Escape the Hurt” in Natural Health magazine. (Hey, you didn’t think I was an expert in everything, did you? Even I have to do research when it comes to helping my baby boomer pals. And, I have a ton of links in the Resource section to prove how much research I did.)
According to Leslie Davenport, a psychotherapist at California Pacific Medical Center, guided imagery can access your brain’s “natural pharmacy”. So, these four techniques are cheaper and safer than that stuff you get from the Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex.
Guided imagery works best in the beginning stages of pain:
- 1. Sit or lie in a comfortable position.
- 2. Form an image of a peaceful place. Think of something like a field of blue flowers or imagine yourself floating in a warm ocean or lying on a soft fluffy cloud.
- 3. Fully engage your senses. Hear the sounds, feel the temperature, smell the aromas, notice the rich colors. The more intensely you visualize this imaginary place, the more the intuitive side of your brain will relax you. (Note: As you may recall from psych classes, your mind can only fully concentrate on one thing at a time, so the more you engage your mind in imagining your happy place, the less your mind will notice your pain.)
- 4. Remember the feeling. Once you have fully imagined this wonderful place, notice how you’re feeling. For example, if your mind believes you are floating in a warm, salty ocean, your mind will respond as if there is no pressure on your back or your joints. And, the more you do this exercise, the easier it will be for your brain to recall this soft, floating feeling whenever you want it to.
2. Moving Mediation for Mind-Body Pain Control
A study published in the journal of Psychosomatic Medicine found that people who meditated regularly felt less pain than those who did not. However, some women, myself included, have back and spine problems which make it difficult to sit on the floor in the typical Zen pose for meditating.
If you fall into this category, try this meditation. The moving meditation sounds silly but it works for me.
Be aware of your body and your breathing, while you do these movements:
- 1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes forward, knees slightly bent, hands relaxed at your side.
- 2. Slowly raise your arms in front of you, with palms facing down, as you inhale.
- 3. Slowly move your arms out to the sides of your body, as you exhale.
- 4. Slowly move your arms to their original position, as you inhale.
- 5. Exhale. Repeat in a mindful manner for 5-10 minutes.
3. Autogenic Training for Pain Management
Autogenic training just means that you repeat positive phrases as you focus on different areas of your body. It’s a form of self-hypnosis, and this relaxation technique is the first method I tried as soon as I wrote this article. This method usually works for me:
Sit or lie down. Close your eyes and slowly repeat these six phrases six times. (You can say these to yourself if you think your friends will record you put the video online.)
- 1. My arms are warm and heavy. I am at peace.
- 2. My legs are warm and heavy. I am at peace.
- 3. My heartbeat is calm and regular. I am at peace.
- 4. My tummy radiates warmth. I am at peace.
- 5. My forehead is cool. I am at peace.
- 6. My breathing is easy. I am at peace.
4. Soft Belly Breathing for Help With Pain
This is the silliest of all the techniques, but it is the one method that always works for me.
Breathing comes from the belly. Sit in a comfortable chair or lie down and relax:
- 1. Close your eyes.
- 2. Breathe in slowly through your nose.
- 3. Silently say the word, “soft,” as your belly expands.
- 4. Breathe out slowly through your mouth.
- 5. Silently say the word, “belly,” as you exhale and relax, while imagining your belly as soft.
- 6. Continue for 5-10 minutes.
I just tried Soft Belly meditating again, and I found it very relaxing. My migraine pain is floating away… far beyond the fluffy white cloud of my guided imagery session. Yes… things are getting better.
I have tried a few of these techniques. Actually, they ARE helping my chronic pain. And, if these meditations don’t work for you, imagine winning the lottery and having George Clooney massaging your feet. (Oops. I need to take that out now that he's married.)
More Articles for Baby Boomer Women:
- Study Shows Pain Really is All in Your Head, and You can See It
- Mind Controls Pain
- How the Mind Controls Pain
- Study Finds Zen Meditation Alleviates Pain
- Guided Imagery for Pain Relief
- Natural Health Magazine ("Escape the Hurt" is not online.)
Photo Credits: Flickr Creative Commons, Shutter Stock, and Prshots.com.
- Main Photo: Shutter Stock.
- Natural Pain Management: Kathy Crabbe Art.
- Imagine Yourself Floating: Kenrick.
- Meditate to Help Pain: Alice Popkorn.
- Positive Phrases: Jennifer (and Chinese writing)
- Relaxation Techniques: Debenham bed and pillows.
What do you think of this article? Leave a comment at the bottom of the page or tell us what works for your pain.