By chronic pain management, of course, we mean persistent rather than intense pain, although it is difficult to discuss pain objectively; what is pain to me may be mere irritation to you or vice versa.
We start from the position that pain is a signal from the brain to let you know that something is wrong; it is a warning sign.
Many of us spend our whole lives running from feeling with the mistaken belief that you cannot bear the pain. But you have already borne the pain. What you have not done is feel all you are beyond that pain.
A recent study from Stanford University highlighted over 1,300 possible side effects and drug interactions from prescription drugs that were not mentioned on their patient information leaflets.
The study concluded that each drug has 329 adverse reactions on average.
So if you pain is so intense that you feel you have no option but to take pain killers, then take them for as short a time as possible.
Pain is a sensation and it could be argued that we have a choice in how to interpret it.
If we suggest that we need to kill pain are we, sometimes at least, giving the pain too much credibility?
Would we be helpless without the painkilling tablets.
Ellen Langer* suggests that pain consists of many different sensations and it may be that we could interpret pain simply as sensations.
Sensations, of course, do not remain the same because a throbbing headache one moment may diminish to the extent where it is barely noticeable.
So noticing the changes gives the patient the chance to control the sensations or, indeed, we may not need to control them because the pain may subside on its own.
Internally, we make representations in the form of pictures, sounds and feelings, and we need to examine those further because if we are able to change the picture, sound or feeling, we may also be able to improve the way we feel.
If you are in pain now, it would be a good time to perform this exercise.
Think about the picture you are making in your mind and examine what we call its sub-modalities.
Do you see the picture in colour or in black and white? Is it flat, like a photograph, or three dimensional?
Are you in the picture or are you looking at the picture through your own eyes?
Is it a wide, panoramic picture or does it have a frame around it.
Is it a still picture or a movie? Is the picture bright, dark or fuzzy? Is it in or out of focus?
Now where is the picture? Have you locate it directly in front of you up or down, up to the right or left or down to the right or left? Is it close or far away?
Does the memory have sounds? Do they move quickly or slowly? Are they in stereo or mono?
Are they clear or dull? From what direction do the sounds come? Are they loud or soft?
Is the tone soft or harsh? Is it a full sound or a thin sound?
Let us move on to feelings. Can you experience any sensations from the memory?
If you do, where do you experience them in your body? You may have to consider that for a moment or two.
How intense are the feelings? Is it possible to weigh those feelings? If it is, how heavy would they be?
Imagine the feelings have a shape. What they are they? Do the feelings have any sort of texture?
This is the way our brain processes the information it is given.
Now think of a time when you were completely pain free and feeling great.
Go through each stage of the exercise again starting with how you see the experience.
Ask precisely the same questions of yourself and compare the answers. For example, is the picture located in the same position?
What other differences are there? Then go on, in turn, to the sounds and feelings located with the memory.
Now experiment with the submodalities. Change the position of the bad picture to the position of the good picture and see if that changes any of your pain.
Examine each of the submodalities one by one and repeat the and move the painful ones to the pleasant memory and see how much your pain is alleviated.
By experimenting in this way, you can consider how you may move a submodality to provide a better sensation.
Try this cure for uncomfortable feelings and headaches. First of all score the headache on a scale of 1-10, 1 being minimal discomfort and 10 being serious pain.
Now make a mental picture of the headache and you can choose to make it a still or a movie.
This action is the first step in you controlling the headache rather than it controlling you.
Is anything in the picture you are making in your mind appearing to intensify the headache or make it worse?
Imagine, in your mind’s eye, placing a cushion under your head. Does it now feel as bad as it did when you initially appraised it?
How do you imagine the colour of the headache? Whatever the colour is, change it to your favourite colour.
Or if the headache is already represented by your favourite colour, change it to another colour.
How does it feel now? Try changing the colours around to see if the headache gets worse or better.
Now try projecting the picture of your headache onto a movie screen and make the picture smaller and smaller. Keep making the picture smaller still until the intensity is 3 or less.
If you do encounter any difficulty with this exercise, imagine that you are sitting in the dress circle of the cinema looking down upon yourself looking at the image on the screen of yourself with a headache.
Let the picture on the screen reduce down until it is no bigger than the size of a small balloon and then let the balloon slowly start to rise up.
Let it float higher and higher still until it reaches the clouds, and as it does so the headache reduces to an intensity of 1.
Watch the balloon fade into the clouds until you can no longer see it and it finally disappears. At this stage you should have no more than the faintest memory of your headache.
What this article about chronic pain management has done is to give you more tools to cope with your pain.
At different times, different techniques will be more effective for different people.
Rotate the techniques to see what works best for you on any given occasion.
*Counterclockwise published by Hodder
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