Pain Psychology

Pain Psychology

Pain psychology is a service that is offered at Compass Health Rehabilitation Center. Patients are referred by their physicians for many different reasons, but basically the goal of pain psychology is to teach methods for coping with pain. Sometimes a patient who is sent for pain psychology will think, “I am in pain, not insane! Does my doctor think this is in my head?”

Pain psychology focuses on ways to help you live your best life despite pain. With chronic pain, there are often feelings of loss, due to limitations. There may be depression, because of having to fight pain daily, looking at a future that may be filled with pain, and having to cancel commitments because the pain is too severe. Many people also struggle with anxiety, secondary to pain, due to worrying about the pain lasting forever, the pain worsening, and whether the pain will stop them from being able to work and earn an income.

Friends and family members also struggle when a loved one is living with chronic pain. They can feel helpless, and want to offer advice, or make suggestions on what you can do to feel better. They may get angry when you have to cancel an event that they were also looking forward to. They may try to ignore that you have pain, resulting in a feeling that “no one understands my pain” or “no one cares that I am in pain’.

At times patients are referred for testing prior to a major surgery. This to determine if they are candidates for certain procedures, surgeries, spinal cord stimulators or other interventional methods. Patients are also referred for smoking cessation, due to the impact nicotine has on a person’s ability to heal after surgery.

Pain psychology includes psychotherapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, to learn how pain has an affect on your mood; including feelings, thoughts and behaviors. Psychotherapy educates and teaches ways to improve coping and self-management of pain. Treatments may also include mindfulness training, breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, and distraction methods to learn to decrease muscle tension and better manage pain.

Pranayama: Stress Relief Yoga Breathing Technique

Medical experts have long suggested that stress plays an important part in impacting our ability to function at maximal levels. Studies have shown that stress plays an important role in producing hormonal imbalance. This hormonal imbalance in the body can produce pain, muscle tension, soreness and anxiety attacks. Therefore stress relief can be an important step towards prevention as well as management to improve physical performance and quality of life.

The word Pranayama is derived from 2 Sanskrit words “Prana” meaning life force/vital energy/the breath and “Ayama” meaning control. Pranayama is a controlled breathing technique that helps in maintaining energy flow and balance in the body. Breathing is a very important element of life and controlled breathing is necessary for all kinds of successful exercises.

Proper respiration/ breathing provides energy to different body systems/parts as well as removes toxic waste products from our body. This promotes relaxation. Pranayama helps in maintaining oxygen and carbon dioxide balance in our body and thereby connects our body, mind and spirit. An individual under stress or stressful conditions usually does not pay much attention to proper breathing, and this can lead to fast and shallow breathing. The result can be oxygen deprivation, which increases negative energy and stress in the body.

Benefits of Pranayama:

Proper respiration is a critical part of an individual’s life. Pranayama allows an individual to breathe fully and deeply, which helps in improving lung capacity, oxygen saturation as well as optimal functional ability.

Pranayama increases an individual’s ability to concentrate by relieving stress as well as promoting relaxation, harmony and peace of mind.

Many believe that Pranayama prevents initiation or progression of any pathological or disease conditions.

Pranayama also improves one’s self-control.

Pranayama helps to remove body waste products/toxins.

Pranayama improves the rate of metabolism of the body and has been show to help digestion.

In our daily life, we use many relaxation techniques to relieve stress. Pranayama is a deep breathing yoga technique; which is easy to understand, less time consuming and also supported by various peer reviewed studies and articles.

Things to keep in mind while performing Pranayama:

Do not hold the breath during this exercise.

Pranayama techniques are best done on an empty stomach (Morning hours or one or two hours after a meal).

Move at your own pace and modify the poses as needed in order to maintain alignment and easy breathing in every pose.

If you feel any discomfort, dizziness or pain during your practice, either modify the pose so that you are comfortable or take a few moments to rest.

It is very important that you listen to your body and practice Pranayama techniques in the manner that is the safest and most comfortable for you.

At the Compass Rehabilitation Center, we have trained experts ready to discuss the benefits of Pranayama for you.

Is Biofeedback For You?

by John A. Jerome, PhD

Biofeedback is a well researched pain self management technique in which you learn to control bodily functions, such as breathing rate and muscle tension, using your mind.  With biofeedback, you're connected to sensors that help you measure and receive information (feedback) about your body (bio).  The biofeedback sensors teach you how to recognize subtle changes in your body's tension, so that you learn to control muscle tension and respiratory rate to achieve the results you want, such as reducing pain and stress.
 
In essence, biofeedback gives you the power to use your thoughts to control your body, often to help with a health condition and to relax yourself and the tension pain causes.
 
Biofeedback appeals to patients for a variety of reasons: it is non invasive, it is a treatment alternative for those who are tired of taking muscle relaxers and sleep medications or who find themselves needing to take too much pain medicine. It helps people take charge of their health.  
 
You don't need special preparation for biofeedback.  However, you should discuss biofeedback first with your doctor to make sure it is a good option for you. Biofeedback is administered by a licensed psychologist or physical therapist as part of their overall pain management care program for you.  It can be included, for insurance purposes, as part of your physical therapy or pain psychology care.