Living with Chronic Pain

How Relaxation and Meditation Techniques Can Reduce Chronic Pain

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Pain signals sent to the mind play a major role in how pain is experienced. This is demonstrated by the fact that the experiencing of pain is also affected by past incidents of pain. The mind may be affected by perceived pain that may continue even after the source of pain or the injury has healed. Despite the fact that the signals are not being sent anymore, the mind still perceives the pain signals. This may be the case with individuals facing chronic pain.

Relaxation and meditation therapies may have the capacity to change the way an individual perceives pain. These therapies may be useful in keeping the mind off the pain as well as possibly negating or canceling pain signals. One of the central techniques includes deep breathing. With deep breathing, an individual must take a deep inhalation, hold for a few seconds, then exhale. The breathing may be guided by spoken words or sounds to help reinforce an effective breathing rhythm.

Other techniques include eliciting the relaxation response, where the individual attempts to counter the body’s response to stress, such as an elevated heartbeat, by using deep breathing and by closing the eyes for a duration of 10 to 20 minutes. Yoga and tai chi are other tools that may be used to control pain through controlled breathing, meditation, and movements which make the body’s muscles more elastic and stronger. More options include meditation with guided imagery, mindfulness, and positive thinking.

Practicing these types of relaxation techniques may yield many benefits including slowing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure, decreasing the rate of breathing, help with digestion, keeping blood sugar within a normal range, decreasing activity of stress hormones, allowing more blood to flow to muscles, decreasing muscle tension and pain, providing better quality of sleep, lessening fatigue, decreasing anger, and boosting confidence. Learning these techniques may require that an individual learns from a professional. The more an individual practices meditation and relaxation, the better the results.