When I work with people undergoing chronic pain management one of the early questions I ask is what is your goal in working with me? Over the years I’ve had many people say they wanted to be pain-free. This is not a realistic expectation for many chronic pain management conditions, however; and I have to break this to them. But what I can guarantee is this: if, and only if, you are willing to do the footwork you will never have to suffer with your pain again. The old saying is true: Pain is inevitable; but suffering is optional.
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 anticipatory pain for better chronic pain management and freedom from suffering check out my article Moving Beyond Anticipatory Pain for Effective Chronic Pain Management that you can download for free on our Article page.
You can learn more about the Addiction-Free Pain Management® System at our website www.addiction-free.com. If you or a loved one is undergoing chronic pain management, especially if you’re in recovery or believe you may have a medication or other mental health problem and you want to learn more effective chronic pain management tools, please go to our Publications page and check out my books; especially the Addiction-Free Pain Management® Recovery Guide: Managing Pain and Medication in Recovery. To purchase this book please Click Here.
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To see an online overview of Cognit delivering Addiction-Free Pain Management® please go to this Link for a free demo.
To learn about my upcoming trainings you can check out our Calendar page.