Traditionally, we know pain to be like an alarm system; a signal to get your attention, to motivate you to seek attention or treatment for whatever is causing it. In this sense, pain is serving a purpose — to keep you safe and alive.
But what about chronic pain?
According to the American Academy of Pain Medicine, more than 100 million Americans are living with a chronic pain condition, such as migraines, or head, neck or back pain. Once pain becomes chronic, pain sounds its alarm regularly, perhaps even constantly. This type of pain is harder to treat and even harder to cope with.
No matter the cause of your pain, or where you feel it in your body, it is all processed in your central nervous system which is controlled by your brain and spinal cord. And, believe it or note, your brain and entire nervous system are influenced by your thoughts, feelings, and your environment. In fact, to a very large degree, how much pain you feel after surgery is determined by your mood and other psychological factors.
This doesn’t mean your pain isn’t real. It means, and is scientifically proven, that pain is fundamentally a psychological phenomenon. For everyone. Narrowly focusing on pain as a sensory problem has contributed to the over-prescribing of opioid medication.
If you’re in pain, and coping day-to-day on relieving pain symptoms related to migraines, you can learn specific pain control skills to calm your nervous system, by inhibiting the pain processing in your brain and spinal cord.
Here are 4 pain control skills that work, for some people, as effectively as medication to ease pain and related distress.
1. Take stock of your triggers and treat your stress. Stress amplifies pain, so it’s important to reduce it. You may not be able to control the circumstance that triggers your stress, but you can control your reaction to it. Learn to become less reactive and you will find you have much greater control.
2. Tune in to your breath. Work to change your breathing pattern so that it becomes deep “belly” breathing (also called diaphragmatic breathing). Use diaphragmatic breathing several times daily. Stick with it and release your expectation that it will change your pain right away. Remind yourself that the goal is to retrain your nervous system first; pain reduction comes later.
3. Learn to meditate. Meditation gives you brain control and helps you focus less on pain—thereby directly reducing pain and suffering. Used regularly, meditation is powerful pain medicine.
4. Harness the power of your thoughts and emotions! Your everyday thoughts and feelings have a profound effect on your pain. This means the more you focus on your pain the worse it will get.
If you are living in pain from migraine, headaches, or a TMJ disorder and are ready to take a step towards being pain free, contact us today to set up a FREE pain management consultation. The consultation lasts approximately 2 hours and consists of a range of motion tests and dental examinations. After the consultation, we will better be able to diagnose the extent of treatment needed.
We look forward to helping you transform your life!