The experience of pain, chronic pain or any type of pain for that matter is unique to each individual, even for pains with the exact same clinical diagnosis. You might be thinking well if everyone’s experience with pain is different, how can a patient be treated through standardized treatment methods? The answer lies in the practice of medicine being both an art and a science. Ultimately, the practice of pain management for a patient, especially if long term treatment is required, is tailored to the individual patient.
The good news is that the brain can learn how to manage the sensation of pain. This “training of the brain” can be used alone or in conjunction with other pain management therapies.
The methods that can be used to teach the brain to manage pain include: relaxation training, biofeedback, visual imagery and distraction and hypnosis.
Relaxation training: This is designed to relax muscles, and takes practice. Breathing techniques where the patient practices slow, deep breathing, cause a reduction in muscle tension.
Biofeedback: This involves the aid of devices which help the patient learn to control bodily functions, such as heart rate and muscle tension. Biofeedback can assist with relaxation training.
Visual Imagery and distraction: This is designed to make you “forget the pain” and instead focus on positive, non-pain thoughts and images.
Hypnosis: No pocket watches being swung in front of your eyes! Hypnosis can be performed by a licensed health professional or even by the patient themselves.