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no way; my pain is not in my head.

FROGFFROG USPosts: 394
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:47 AM in Chronic Pain
The following views are my own opinions. I am not a medical professional!

After trying every drug cocktail imaginable and failing miserably I finally decided to give the pain psychology a try.

Some hear pain psychology and think not me, no way; my pain is not in my head. At least I did. Before I decided to give it a try I found myself saying, “I have tried everything.” Only when I was facing a huge surgery that I so did not want did I realize I had not tried EVERYTHING. Afterall, I'd been told, "It’s only pain. Sometimes pain can be overcome.”

Now I know you are thinking that sounds rather callous but I believe a few of the professionals that told me this were just being honest. There was no guarantee that I would be out of pain after surgery so if I can live with the pain before surgery…..

Fast forward to my acceptance of Pain Psychology. We started by working on some relaxation therapy. Let me just say, if you haven't experience some relaxation therapy I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT! What have you got to lose? We try all these drugs and all their side effects why not give relaxation therapy a SERIOUS try. Add it to your arsenal of pain mgt techniques. The beauty of the relaxation therapy is NO SIDE EFFECTS, you CAN'T OVERDOSE and there is NO WITHDRAWAL.

Maybe because I've always had a good imagination but I find it very easy to get to "that place." I’m still working on the skill but I can honestly tell you there have been many times I have been able to use my new skill to take the edge off of, what would have been in the past, a full blown out of control flare up.

Recently I had to have a small in-office skin procedure done that required 5 small stitches. I decided to try and use my relaxation therapy during the procedure. Seriously, I never even felt the needle. At one point, we had been chatting and I asked the doctor how much longer. She said, “I am on the 5th stitch now.” 5th stitch? I seriously wasn't sure she had started.

Have I figured out how to keep myself in that state of mind? Man, if I could, I would bottle that up and make millions. But it has definitely gotten me through some tough time.

Between having an OPEN MIND, the books I have picked up, just thinking psychologically, and having a therapist I can work with, I AM LEARNING so many things in this new journey. The biggest thing I have learned is that I HAVE SO MUCH TO LEARN about living with chronic pain. More than I could possibly describe in one post. Things about the guilt, acceptance, overdoing, our support systems, how our emotions affect our pain, the list goes on. Will this fix me structurally? NO! But I’ve already had 2 back surgeries so I pretty much already know there is no guarantee there.

I have committed to this for a while and if nothing else I’ll walk away having a better understanding of myself, Chronic Pain, and how to deal with the two together.

With all that learned so far, I still have no clue what section of the forums to post this in. Hmmmmm…..
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Comments

  • Yep, I use it all the time now, when I have uncomfortable procedures. It sure does help, there is just no denying that!

    So is my pain ALL in my head? No. But some of it is, that's for sure, and that part I have control over. And I mean some of ALL pain, from back pain to the pain from a blood draw or a stubbed toe or a broken foot. Some part of pain is in how we perceive it, and we can change that.

    Wonderful stuff :) Thanks for posting this! And, you're one point closer to a pony ride!

  • I've worked with a counselor for many years on alternative therapies for pain management in addition to my medication. Relaxation/imagery, breathing, focus techniques. Most recently we've added aroma therapy and reflexology (which has to be done by someone who knows reflexology). Are there days when these techniques don't help, yep. Sometimes the pain has gone through the threshold and nothing helps. But when it helps, it helps and it like you said, no chance of overdosing or withdrawal.

    When I first started trying it, I asked my counselor if it meant the pain was all in my head and her answer was a resounding NO! These are just alternative ways to help manage the pain, like the medication. So never let someone tell you it's in your head and keep trying.
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 10,065
    i think that can be one of the most frustrating things to deal with.

    And honestly, I know that women in general have a rougher time at this. Why?

    A man come go to a doctor and tells them they have chest pain. Next thing you know, all sorts of tests are done, possible hospital admittance, etc

    A women comes in with the exact problem and many times they are dismissed as it is Only in your head

    It not fair, but true in so many causes.

    But, now getting back to your statements about relaxation therapy. I am a very strong believer in this.

    - Relaxation/Medication techniques
    - Aroma Therapy
    - Music Therapy

    The human brain is capable of doing so much. I know that I can not will away my pain, but I do know that I can reduce my stress level and pain level by doing some of the above and more.

    I went to an Osteopathic doctor for about 6 months.
    I had decent results. But it also did depend on believing it could help. When the DO started to work on me, it was only slight hand touching at different parts of my body. There was a belief that my nerves up and down my spinal cord were all entangled. So, their goal was to straighten them up and allow a free passage up/down the spinal cord.

    Will that help all? I really do not know
    But I dont know we can do just about anything when we believe in something and become devoted to it.
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • In an odd ball way, the pain *is* in your head, as it is the transmitter of information! Otherwise, in the true meaning of what you meant, yeah it ISN'T in your head.

    I love the concept. I guess some of us go there with music, varied sounds (wild life, mood, rain). It sounds like what you are doing though is more focused and structured. Thanks for sharing. I am one that is opened to new options. :)

    Ron,

    You bring up a great point! Women are structured differently, and the "heart attack" in the ER is a perfect example! Now why we hurt more? Brenda guess here...okay? We are designed to give birth - big pain monster there. With that stated, we are by instinct such that we hold off longer with pain (watching over our families whether stay at home or working mom) than most men. I see this with my hubby. I break a toe, tape it and go on, he breaks a toe, instant ER visit. Delaying treatment can make things worse as you know.... Just a thought. :)

    Brenda
    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • Your brain is a computer. It is taught to interpret things, good and uncomfortable. It stands to reason, that if I can train my heart, to drop speed, so I can shoot, on a competitive [National] level, then I can also modify my responses to felt pain.

    It takes time, and as such, there are great responses and not so good. The big thing, is not getting caught up in the negative responses and giving up.

    Having used these for 20 years, it is just a matter of intent, and you can focus things, on what you would like to change.

    I will never tell you that your pain is not real. It is, just as mine is real. That said, I do have a huge toolbox of things that DO modify the felt pain.

    Practice and persistent use, is what determines who gets the best relief, or modification.

    JMHO - C458
  • Well the motherboard that reads the pain signal is! LOL!

    I too have done the pain psychology route and as long as you are open minded you WILL get something out of it. It doesn't aim to cure your pain problems or other problems come to that, but it has helped me cope (and I thought I was doing really well before I went) so now my attitude of "daily battle" with pain is no longer there and I just "deal with it" on a much lower note in my head. Our inner voices are very powerful.

    I think that too many doctors don't address these issues and look only at the mechanical structures. Living with chronic pain is a very private and personal endurance test (least that what I think) and we have control on where the "limit" is (on the most part.

    Where this goes wrong for me, is that I think my limit is high, for me to admit a bad day now is that the pain is so intense I can't walk. I constantly take pain killers round the clock and bad days mean that I have to curl up and wait - I have no more meds to take - Now how exactly does this help me in the longer term, when I have been re-programmed to "accept" my plight and I am house bound at 38 years old because of the pain? When exactly do you go back to the docs and say "I need help?" And you actually get heard because the pain is NOT in your head!

    Hmmmm. Needs some more thought I think! :)
  • But of course the pain is in our heads. The brain is where we receive it. Now I'm not saying it's not real. I'm saying we need to find new ways to receive it. Or receive less or not at all.

    After all, that is what so many of the meds do, change the pain receptors, yes? We are still in pain on these meds we just don't receive it.

    The brain is the organ that controls the mind. The mind is a powerful thing. If we can find ways to control it we can find ways to control the pain. Does that make it all go away? Not that I have found. This weather this morning is a perfect example! That is where I totally get what you were saying mcdermoju. Sometimes it's just there. Relaxation Therapy helps and having someone specifically trained to help you learn it is a huge bonus.

    But some of the tools we learn in pain psychology help us learn ways to control the pain that consume our lives and the thought process that is sure to follow. It's part of the sum of the total package of pain management.

    Trust me, it seems like it is taking me forever to work past the fact that I feel like I have to just push through the pain, ignore it, and carry on, "just give birth to the child that will never come." LOL! Yeah right! Me? (That I really struggle with.)

    I just recently had a conversation about guilt with my therapist. We were discussing how I feel guilty when I'm accomplishing nothing and my husband has to come home from a long day of work and do all the things around the house I feel I should have been able to do. So what do I do? I try to do them. At the cost of doing too much and increasing my pain levels. All because I feel guilty. (I know, I know, How many threads have we seen on this.)

    His comment was simple. Everyone feels guilt for a variety of reasons not just chronic pain. Your guilt is understandable but your compensation for it is not. If you feel the need to do something about your guilt donate to charity or something.

    His point was that I was just continuing the cycle. Feel guilty because I am in pain,
    do more,
    increase the pain,
    another flare up,
    unavailable physically or emotionally,
    more guilt.
    It would have been easier to just donate to charity, write a poem, or plant a tree in my husbands name. LOL!

    I get it I do. The guilt is normal. I'm just fixing it the wrong way.

    I think deep down I know these things I just need to put them all together in a working way to create a new way of life for myself. ...And that's when the anger comes in. I don't want to find a new way of life I want this pain to just go away! Obviously I still have a lot of work to do!

    (Pony ride here I come!)
  • Frog what do you think of endorphins to block pain? People who work out claim to feel better even if they are tired and sweaty. I think the scientists attribute this to the release of endorphines.

    Why I'm bringing up this aspect of mine/body control is the horsey ride. There are hipotherapy programs where they use horseback riding to increase the stability and core of children with mental and physical disabilities. I've seen this first hand and witnessed the absolute joy that these children have when they are riding, even the ones who were terrified at first.

    HB I think you should keep that horsey and start a spine rehab program on horseback. What better than a dressage horse for stability and balance. :)
  • THANK YOU for that Centurion.

    Not getting caught up in the negative responses is probably my biggest battle.

    I'm referring to the negative responses of pain.

    Yesterday I felt in control. Enter the horrid weather and today, not so much.

    I'm new to this but so far it beats all the side effects and the zombie feelings from all the added drugs they kept piling on.

    I'll keep working at it and see what else I can add to my tool box.
  • I am sure that's what kept me going as long as I did. Besides the endorphins, there is also a rhythmic component that keeps muscle spasms at bay, according to my old PT.

    My daughter volunteers at a therapeutic riding center and it does WONDERS for these kids.

    But right now, it's too painful, so I'm grounded for a while :( Boo.
  • As I have little to no experience in the area of horse back riding I can't comment on that particular aspect. (I've plenty more posting to do to get the points to get there. LOL.)

    Yes Kris, I do believe that releasing the endorphins can help block the pain. Does the exercise and endorphine release help block the pain or is it a combination of the exercising of the muscles, the distraction, increased oxygen flow to deprieved areas and the over all "feel good" we get when we exercise that helps relieve the pain?

    Again, another tool we throw in our tool box of pain mgt.

    Many articles and studies on this but that would be worthy of a whole different thread.

    As I stated before, even though it feels like it's been a forever, I'm realizing I am so very very new to all of this. There is so very much I have to learn. As one who just can't handle all the drugs I'm staying open to other forms of pain mgt.
  • Good I think the thing, is to keep adding tool to our toolbox. To help us, when Meds just do not cut it and we wish to find other ways to modify things.

    Do I use meds, Heck YES. Do I use everything else too! HECK YES. Because I believe that ALL OF THESE THINGS will give me a needed reduction in flet pain. So I can live, at 5 or lower and really enjoy life.

    Think if it - Sex - can give me a good hit, yes it hurts like heck - at time the body does not work and so I pay for it, but in the end, the release, allows for me to enjoy some REAL good feelings and endorphines too.

    And every littl thing I use, including something as simple as just not falling for the guilt, allows me to not feel some pain too.

    Add to that - good feelings about helping, just one person feel better about thier situation and I get a feel good feeling about that too.

    Realizing that if I invite pain, into my guesthouse, instead of fight the thing tooth and nail, allows me to reduce the felt pain. I may not make pain welcome to stay with me, but I will not fight with pain, just for today, makes a huge change in my felt pain. When I am ready, showing pain the door and allowing it to leave my guesthouse, allows me to feel like I have some control - and that is huge in managing the pain too.

    If every one of thes things, including the pain meds - is equal to one level of pain - I have drop my pain by 4 or 6 levels. and I have a great day! Like I did today!

    Even with the busy day I had, and I had a cold that hit me like a ton of bricks at 9pm last night, but I am just fine cause I kept my part up, just doing little things to feel better about myself.

    I hope your day and tomorrow is wonderful - as I know that mine will be! cheers all!
  • Are there any books, cd, or what-have-you that I can get to study this and teach myself these techniques?
  • Search Mind-Body Medicine - here on this site. There is really good intro level discusions. For tutorials of how - look to u-tube and google video.

    There are good tuts on the how. Once you learn to meditate. You just interject the self-talk - pointed directly to helping the body and pain issues.

    If you have other questions, just ask.
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