Using brainpower as a pain reliever
They help you through hard times. They make you feel good. You can’t see them, but you love them — and they can even help to relieve neck and back pain. Endorphins are known as the brain’s “feel good chemicals.” But feeling good involves both mental and physical states and finding a better balance could be a pain relief method you haven’t tried.
When you’re in a negative state of mind, it prevents your brain from producing those naturally pain-relieving endorphins. That’s where cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can come in as a helpful tool for chronic pain sufferers. Common CBT techniques can help patients change negative thought or behavior patterns, but CBT for chronic pain can also help in tandem with other treatment methods:
Pioneered by The Reader, a charity organization improving quality of life through literature, Shared Reading has shown positive results for relieving chronic pain. In a Shared Reading study, participants with chronic pain met for weekly reading sessions. Together, they were able to connect and share their personal experiences using novels, short stories and poetry. Participants not only reported relief from some aspects of their conditions but a greater sense of belonging while overcoming social isolation caused by depression.
We know that mindfulness meditation for pain relief helps reduce stress, while CBT helps to change negative thinking. But Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) combines the best of both worlds — especially for patients who experience depression or anxiety from living with a chronic spine condition. MBCT techniques can include body scan exercises, sitting meditations, yoga and controlled breathing methods. Using MBCT, patients can try mindfulness techniques for chronic pain while learning to be more mentally aware, helping them prevent and take control of negative mental states before they occur.
The mind-body connection isn’t a myth. The way you process thoughts and emotions affects how you feel; your physical well-being affects the way you think. It almost works like a biological cycle, and if you thought Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques wouldn’t be an option to relieve physical pain, think again. Ask your doctor what kinds of therapeutic techniques you may able to try.
You deserve to be your best self, mentally and physically. If a chronic neck or back condition is getting in the way of your perfect mind-body connection, be sure to explore all of your options. Contact Laser Spine Institute with any questions you have about the spine conditions we treat and treatments we offer for lasting relief.