They can help you find relief so pain won't keep you Reference Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on. When you hurt day after day, it can take a toll on your emotional and physical health. About 25% of people with chronic pain will go on to have a condition called chronic pain syndrome Where on your body does it hurt?. Chronic pain can be caused by many conditions, but sometimes it begins What causes chronic pain, and what can you do about it?.
Have Chronic Pain? Do You
Or, ahem, certain other services. The common denominator here is touch. Myths about massage abound. For instance, massage does not flush lactic acid out of cells, or meaningfully increase circulation, or reduce inflammation. While many benefits of massage are still disconcertingly uncertain and hotly debated by some , there are two truly proven ones.
We made an interesting discovery concerning the effect of the treatment on state anxiety. When a series of massage therapy sessions was administered, the first session in the series provided significant reductions in anxiety, but the last session in the same series provided reductions that were almost twice as large. This pattern was consistent across every study we were able to examine, which strongly suggests that experience with massage therapy is an important predictor of its success, at least where anxiety is concerned.
To put it another way, it is possible that the greatest benefits come about only when a person has learned how to receive massage therapy. So this should be a no-brainer: Yoga, taiqi, qigong, meditation are all full of exercises that can be done individually with good effect, if one has a clear, specific goal of calming down. Here is one of the best examples, in my opinion:. The abdominal lift is a classic yogic exercise, best known as a longevity exercise for its stimulating effect on the internal organs.
It is also a powerful abdominal strengthener including the rarely exercised transversus abdominis , is vital for mastering many breathing techniques, and makes all other breathing exercises easier. One abdominal lift takes about one minute, and three of them is a good dose of calming, although I recommend five for tough cases. Leap into the air with a big breath, and as you come crashing and stamping down, blow out hard and flick your arms and hands straight downwards, as though throwing lightning bolts into the ground.
Ten of these, followed by some stillness, is hard to stay anxious through. Crane Spreads Wings Stand with your feet together, hands folded across your chest, hunched over.
The anxiety pattern can also be broken by exercises drawn from many western traditions, such as Reichian body work or cognitive therapy. Here are two more examples:. Worrying is a mental rut.
Cognitive therapy suggests building new pathways with specific, deliberate mental alternatives. Write down a positive set of thoughts that are a specific alternative to the worrying pattern. Read them out loud in your head five times. Why is this a calming exercise? Because your mind and body are one system. It was quite carefully crafted, and it reassured me to craft it. Simply working on it was as much a part of the self-therapy as re-reading it.
The challenge of thinking about and expressing good and reassuring thoughts was quite helpful. Twenty-five fast, deep clear breaths, without pausing at the top or the bottom, can calm you more completely — bring you back into your body — than most people will feel after any amount of meditation.
For much more information, see The Art of Bioenergetic Breathing. Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes. More formally stated, as psychologist Dr. For instance, we know that macaques with low social status are treated very harshly and it has measurable effects on their immune systems: And clearly their problem is that they are just surrounded by asshole macacques.
This is the kind of thing I mean when I cautiously counsel people to do their best to solve problems in their lives as a very basic defense against both anxiety and pain. Consider the tragic example of domestic violence: The first human test of pre biotics — not the much more familiar pro biotics — for anxiety and stress was conducted in Prebiotics are basically food for the bacteria in your guts, which have a strange-but-true relationship with your nervous system.
There are many caveats about this evidence, of course. A detailed analysis of the paper by Examine. Curcumin is the active ingredient in the bright yellow southwest Indian spice, turmeric. Curcumin has a larger evidence base [Examine. These results constitute the only really good science news about any kind of treatment for delayed onset muscle soreness — there is no other treatment for it but the passage of time. Now it just needs to be replicated. They are probably not sufficient for most patients to justify the cost and hassle of supplementation.
One minor complication drives up the cost and risk of wasting your money: Just be aware that straight curcumin may not be effective. So, for most people, caffeine is just a good thing. And, ironically, this may be true even though caffeine is also a mild pain-killer. Caffeine makes us hyper, and that can be somewhat exhausting. We pump more adrenalin, wear ourselves out, and lose sleep: Chronic, excessive caffeine abuse — perhaps a vicious cycle of self-medication, caffeine every morning, alcohol every night?
People in chronic pain are often already anxious and sensitized ; regardless of why, artificial stimulation may be the last thing they need. Booze has similar issues. Reader Kira Stoops sent me this interesting anecdote about her experience with quitting caffeine:. I took one pill, the smallest dose, and shot through the roof. It was an uncomfortable amount of energy, and I started crying when it kicked in.
To me, that was a sign my nervous system was already stimulated plenty, and I needed to start finding ways to wind it down more. I had to leave the house to get it, it created some social connection in the coffee shop, and the little jolt of caffeine gave me energy for the day. But I started sleeping better right away. Many fibromyalgia patients have disturbed 4 th wave sleep, and I think cutting out coffee-caffeine allowed me to sleep more deeply, and get more sleep in a shorter period of time.
With more sleep, I had more clarity. Being off coffee gave me a good barometer for what my actual energy and anxiety levels were, once it was out of my system. Within a month of quitting caffeine, I was sleeping better, having energy longer, feeling more clear, taking on more work projects, hanging out with friends more, attending more events, and just generally finally seeing the needle move.
All of these things had their own pain-lowering, positive effects. I just cut my afternoon green tea a few days ago, and will soon start reducing the two cups of black tea I drink daily. But my pain seems to come from clenching and tension, and my nervous system seems stimulated enough already. Letting coffee go helps me relax a little more. Plus, not having the morning habit forced me into even healthier morning habits. I would not have said coffee was a problem for me before.
I thought it was a good routine. These cold cloudy days had me reaching for the brew … within a week of half-caf Americanos I was sleeping like crap, and within about 10 days my pain was steadily and unmistakably worse. Quit again a few days ago and started sleeping harder by the third night. Seems silly for a half-caffeine shot of espresso, but … sensitive nervous systems are just that, I guess.
I am a science writer, former massage therapist, and I was the assistant editor at ScienceBasedMedicine. I have had my share of injuries and pain challenges as a runner and ultimate player. My wife and I live in downtown Vancouver, Canada. See my full bio and qualifications , or my blog, Writerly. Pain occurs when something hurts, causing an uncomfortable or unpleasant feeling.
The presence of pain often means that something is wrong. Each individual is the best judge of his or her own pain. Acute pain usually comes on suddenly and is caused by something specific. It is sharp in quality. Acute pain usually does not last longer than six months. It goes away when there is no longer an underlying cause for the pain. Causes of acute pain include:.
Chronic pain can be caused by many different factors. Conditions that accompany normal aging often affect bones and joints in ways that cause chronic pain for example, osteoarthritis. Other common causes are nerve damage which causes neuropathic pain and injuries that fail to heal properly.
To make things more complicated, some kinds of chronic pain have numerous causes. Low back pain, for example, may be caused by one or more of these factors: Many chronic diseases or infections can also cause chronic pain.
These include rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes , cancer, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, shingles , and AIDS; diabetes, shingles, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and AIDS can cause neuropathic pain.
In many cases, however, the source of chronic pain can be a very complex and even mysterious issue. Although it may begin with an injury or illness, chronic pain can develop a psychological dimension even after the physical problem has healed.
The symptoms of chronic pain can also include fatigue, sleeplessness, and the feeling of discomfort, soreness, tightness, or stiffness. Chronic pain patients may use descriptive terms such as shooting pain, burning pain, aching pain, or electrical shocks.
Acute vs. Chronic Pain
There's a lot you can do to help yourself and have a better life even with chronic pain. Simple changes can often make a big difference to the. Chronic pain isn't the same as acute pain. Learn the differences, how chronic pain forms, what it's like, and what you can do about it. Chronic pain is often defined as any pain lasting more than 12 weeks. Chronic pain may limit a person's movements, which can reduce flexibility, strength, is that the person living with pain needs help learning to think, feel, and do better.