Because you believe that you’re going to hurt, you can activate your physiological pain system just by thinking about doing something that you believe will cause you to hurt. This is called anticipatory pain. You anticipate that something will make you hurt, which in turn activates the physiological pain system. You start hurting even before you begin doing whatever it is that you believe will cause you to hurt. All you have to do is to start thinking about doing that thing.
Once the physical pain system is activated, the anticipatory pain reaction can actually make the pain symptoms worse. Whenever you feel the pain, you interpret it in a way that makes it worse. You start thinking about the pain in a way that actually makes it worse. You tell yourself that my pain is “awful and terrible,” and that “I can’t handle the pain.” You convince yourself that “it’s hopeless, I’ll always hurt, and there’s nothing I can do about it.”
This way of thinking causes you to develop emotional reactions that further intensify or amplify your pain response. The increased perception of pain causes you to keep changing your behavior in ways that create even more unnecessary limitations and more emotional discomfort. This can make you feel trapped in a progressive cycle of disability.
My Pain Is Horrible, Awful, Terrible! AKA I’m Suffering!
Your expectations—what you believe it will be like when you experience pain—does affect your brain chemistry. Your brain chemistry can either intensify or reduce the amount of physical pain that you experience. What you think and how you manage your feelings in anticipation of feeling pain can make your pain either more severe or less severe. In other words, you usually get the level of pain and dysfunction that you expect—a self-fulfilling prophecy.
You Get The Level Of Pain And Dysfunction That You Expect!
The anticipation of an expected pain level can influence the degree to which you experience pain. When your self-talk is saying, “this is horrible, awful, terrible,” your brain tends to amplify the pain signals. When this occurs, the level of distress increases—you suffer, remaining a victim to your pain.
Using A Two-Part Approach: Physiological & Psychological
Because of the two parts—pain and suffering—pain management must also have two components: physical and psychological. The way you sense or experience pain—its intensity and duration—will affect how well you are able to manage it. Anticipatory Pain (which was covered earlier article) is also a major psychological factor that must be addressed. The research on recovery from chronic pain is very clear. The people that are most likely to successfully manage their pain do so by becoming proactively involved in their own treatment process. The chances of success go up as you start learning as much as possible about your pain and effective pain management.
Breaking the suffering pain cycle involves addressing the physiological as well as the psychological/emotional components of the pain. Stress also plays a role in keeping a pain cycle going. Stress causes muscle tension, which then leads to increased pain sensation. At the same time your cognition (thinking) and emotions can also amplify this cycle. Breaking this cycle requires concurrent treatment of the physiological and psychological/emotional condition.
Using the Addiction-Free Pain Management® System
Because of the two parts—pain and suffering—pain management must also have two components: physical and psychological. The way you sense or experience pain—its intensity and duration—will affect how well you are able to manage it. The Addiction-Free Pain Management® System can help you if you’re living with chronic pain and want to better manage your pain; thus leading to a better quality of life.
To learn more about chronic pain management please check out our website at www.addiction-free.com and go to our Publications page and check out my latest book The Addiction-Free Pain Management® Recovery Guide: Second Edition. If you want to learn more about dealing with suffering for chronic pain management you can find my article Pain versus Suffering that you can download for free on our Ariticles page.
To check out our July Chronic Pain Solutions Newsletter please click here.