Chronic pain affects roughly 100 million Americans, and 1.5 billion people
worldwide. Pain is often invisible, in that one can have a chronic pain condition and appear “normal,” but have significant difficulty functioning physically and emotionally.
Although there are a number of conventional therapies that are typically recommended to chronic pain patients, including drugs, devices and procedures, often patients complain of inadequate relief. In addition, ongoing pain is linked to higher rates of anxiety and depression, poor sleep, and strained relationships.
The good news is that there are a number of complementary therapies that have been shown to help with pain, anxiety, depression and insomnia. Many are free or low cost, relatively easy to implement, and can improve coping with chronic pain. In addition, they can complement your existing pain management program, whether that is conventional, alternative, or integrative in nature.
The list below is by no means exhaustive, but includes 5 therapies shown to help foster greater ease and can be implemented right away, and with little effort.
Here are 5 simple, effective ways to help manage pain.
These are just a few suggestions, but a good start. The key is that the above are things you can begin right away, are easy to implement, and have benefits beyond helping with pain.
Dr. Traci Stein is the author of the award-winning, “The Everything Guide to Integrative Pain Management.” She is also the creator of 9 (and counting) self-hypnosis, guided imagery, and meditation audio programs available on iTunes, Google Play, and at HealthJourneys.com. For more information, follow her on Twitter (@DrTraciStein), Facebook (Facebook.com/DrTStein), or listen to her podcasts on iTunes.
Dobek, C. E., Beynon, M. E., Bosma, R., L., and Stroman, P. W. (2014). Music Modulation of Pain Perception and Pain-Related Activity in the Brain, Brain Stem, and Spinal Cord: A Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study. The Journal of Pain, 15(10), 1057-1068.
Giannetti, E., Maglione, M., Alessandrella, A., Strisciuglio, C., De Giovanni, D., Campanozzi, A., Miele, E.,& Staiano, A. (2017). A Mixture of 3 Bifidobacteria Decreases Abdominal Pain and Improves the Quality of Life in Children With Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Multicenter, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Trial. Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, 51(1), e5–e10.
Grant, J.A., Courtemanche, J., Duerden, E. G., Duncan, G. H. (2010). Cortical thickness and pain sensitivity in Zen meditators. Emotion, 10(1), 43-53.
Meghani, N., Tracy, M. F., Hadidi, N. N., & Lindquist, R. (2017). Part I: The Effects of Music for the Symptom Management of Anxiety, Pain, and Insomnia in Critically Ill Patients: An Integrative Review of Current Literature. Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing, 36(4), 234-243.
Ricker, M. A. & Haas, W. C. (2017). Anti-Inflammatory Diet in Clinical Practice: A Review. Nutrition in Clinical Practice, 32(3), 318 – 325.
Tillisch, K., Labus, J., Kilpatrick, L., Jiang, Z., Stains, J., & Ebrat, B., et al. (2013). Consumption of fermented milk product with probiotic modulates brain activity. Gastroenterology, 144, 1394–1401.
Zeidan, F., Martucci, K. T., Kraft, R. A., Gordon, N. S., McHaffie, J. G., Coghill, R. C. (2011). Brain mechanisms supporting the modulation of pain by mindfulness meditation. The Journal of Neuroscience, 31(14), 5540-5548.