“This has been going on for so long, I’ll never get better.”
“The x-ray (or MRI or CT scan, etc.) didn’t show anything; this must be really rare and bad.”
“I’m afraid I’ll hurt more so I’ll just sit very still here on the couch.”
“I’m fragile, maybe even broken.”
Here are a few things you can do to start to break free of a persistent pain state:
1. Pay it some Mind: We’ve already talked about our most powerful ally in our fight against pain – the brain. Use it! When you catch yourself caressing your favorite thought virus, remind yourself to stop. Snap your fingers; clap your hands, switch your watch to the other wrist, etc., as a way to physically reinforce the mental change you want to accomplish. Then replace those negative phrases with more helpful alternatives, like:
“This may have gone on for a long time, but I will continue to be an active participant in finding a solution.”
“The fact that the MRI doesn’t show any major issues is really good. My joints and soft tissues are okay.”
“I feel weak and fragile, but there’s plenty of good, solid research that shows that a regular exercise routine can change that.”
2. Get moving: Over and over research proves that movement is imperative for the body to function properly. If you’ve been in pain for a very long time and, consequently, have been quite sedentary, consider a gradual return to regular physical activity. Gradual or graded is the operative word here. Care needs to be taken that one doesn’t do too much too soon. An example of graded activity may be the following: Set a timer for 2 minutes and take a walk outside or ride a stationary bike until the timer rings. That’s all you need to do. The next day set the timer for 3 minutes and do your physical activity until the timer rings. Then, increase it to 5 minutes, and so on, gradually building up to 20 or 30 minutes.
3. Vary the input: Sometimes it helps to give the nervous system a new set of inputs. Through gentle manual therapy, it is possible to coax the system into lowering its guard against movement and speed up the tolerance to physical activity. So, seek out a healthcare professional, who specializes in manual therapy and jump-start your journey back to a more active and less painful life.
Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono at FreeDigitalPhotos.net