Why You Need a "Plan B" for Pain Management

Uncategorized May 26, 2019

Face it - no matter how pissed, depressed or defeated you may feel, the reality is that your doctor controls your pain meds - not you. And since that's not something you can change, it's time to figure out a Plan B. Your pain isn't going to go away, but your meds just might. So let's take a look at what's going on, and how you can start doing something about it. What follows is a brief summary of the science of chronic pain, and how you can turn that info into powerful tools to move your life from pain-centered to life-centered.

Why are you in pain? Well….for one thing, it’s the body’s way of getting your attention. When it’s acute pain - pain that comes from touching a hot stove, for instance - the pain is there so that you’ll know to pull your hand away. When you touch that hot stove, your body instantly spits out chemicals designed to put you into action: cortisol levels shoot up, your muscles tense, your breath becomes rapid, your sympathetic nervous system - your fight or flight response - goes into high gear, your heart rate increases….and all these things happen in a split second. Once you pull your hand away from the stove, these responses reverse, and now you’re looking for some ice water to soothe your hand.

 With chronic pain, there’s no ice water. Not now, not ever. Because the pain isn’t coming from tissue damage, and your nervous system isn’t going back to normal — it’s locked on “high”.  All those responses you had for acute pain stay with you and don’t shut off. Which means that your heart rate remains elevated, your muscles remain tight, and your breath is quick and shallow - it's what I call your "pain system". You can medicate, you can meditate, you can distract yourself from it, but your pain is now your constant companion. 

The problem is that having your nervous system on high actually makes your pain worse, and your mind and emotions even more out of balance. Calming things down won’t make the pain go away 100%, but over time you'll definitely notice the difference.

There are a bunch of techniques which can calm down your nervous system. Some people find meditation useful. Some people find it impossible. There’s no good or bad about this - you just have to figure out what works for you and do it. So I’ll present you with 3 tools that you can use, and you can decide for yourself which ones work best for you. One tip though: whatever method you choose, stick with it for at least a month. Why a month? Because calming a nervous system which has been stuck on high for at least 6 months is going to take a little time. Re-training your brain - which is where the pain system is located - takes an investment of time. Remember, your pain has robbed you of your time - give yourself permission to start re-claiming that time for yourself.

Sure, it's easier to pop a pill - until that pill is taken away from you. Or it stops working the way it used to. Or the side effects become so overwhelming that you're caught between a rock and a hard place. Or maybe you're someone who just doesn't want to get caught in the pill mill. Whatever your reason, the one thing I know for sure is that your life is worth it. You can reclaim your happiness....your relationships.....your life!

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