Negative feelings like depression, anxiety, stress, and anger can increase the body’s sensitivity to pain. By learning to take control of stress, you may find some relief from chronic pain. Muscles tighten even more when we are stressed. You can counteract this through relaxation techniques. Relaxation can also work similarly to distraction; extreme relaxation can make you stop thinking about the pain. Relaxation techniques include: deep breathing and meditation, massage, yoga, and music and art therapy.
Distracting the mind from pain is key for those suffering from chronic pain. Not only does it help relieve the actual pain, it also relieves the stress that results from consistent pain. When you focus on pain, it makes it worse rather than better. Instead, finding something you like doing – an activity that keeps you busy and thinking about things besides your pain. You might not be able to avoid pain, but you can take control of your life.
To effectively treat your pain, your doctor needs to know how you’ve been feeling between visits. Keeping a log or journal of your daily “pain score” will help you track your pain. At the end of each day, note your pain level on the 1 to 10 scale. Also, note what activities you did that day. Take this log book to every doctor visit – to give your doctor a good understanding of how you’re living with chronic pain and your physical functioning level.
Because all topicals are slightly different, they are all used to relieve different types of pain. For example, Capsaicin relieves pain from joints, muscles and nerves. Salicylates work well for pain, particularly in joints that are close to the skin. Counterirritants (such as menthol) create a burning or cooling sensation to distract you from pain.