Relaxation Techniques and Chronic Pain

Relaxation Techniques and Chronic Pain


Chronic pain is typically defined as a pain that lasts at least for six months after the body has healed. This kind of pain persists for a much longer time than the acute pain and is quite resistant to most forms of treatment.

Apart from causing immense discomfort, chronic pain can cause a strong sense of low self-esteem, depression, anger and can even interfere with the normal everyday life.

Due to its persistent nature, chronic often fails to respond to conventional medicine and other related methods of treatment. Hence, it is crucial that alternative forms of treatment are resorted to for obtaining relief from chronic pain.

Relaxation therapies form the mainstay of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Research shows that relaxation techniques constitute six out of ten most commonly used CAM therapies.

In this section, we highlight the various techniques of relaxation followed to gain relief from chronic pain.

1) Meditation

Meditation is one of oldest and most effective relaxation therapies followed for relief from chronic pain.

Different types of techniques are followed for practicing medication for the purpose, with yoga being one of the most effective and successful methods.

2) Progressive Relaxation

Progressive relaxation is a technique that helps to recognize the tension or stress present in the body that can further develop into a chronic pain of diverse natures.

This technique is based on the assumption that the undue tension present in the body can turn into a major physical problem, such as headache, muscle tightness and the like.

3) Externalizing

This particular relaxation technique has been found especially useful for people with chronic body pains, including pain in the back, neck, foot and headaches.

This technique follows a certain set of steps and is generally done with an assistance of a friend or a professional.

The basic steps followed include:

Get into a relaxed state of mind Speaking slowly and softly, the professional guides you through a verbal exercise. This verbal exercise focuses on developing a defined picture of what your pain looks like. Your guide will ask you to focus on the pain, determine its size, shape, color etc. Once a clear picture is made, the mind will be asked to focus on the ways to dissolve the object, hence the pain.

4) Snoezelen

Snoezelen is basically a sensory environment purported to produce relaxation in a non-clinical setting and was originally developed as a technique in Netherlands in the 1970s.

5) Biofeedback

Biofeedback is a kind of self-regulation relaxation technique that uses the mind to control the body. Using feedback from a variety of monitoring procedures and equipment, a biofeedback specialist can try to teach the patient the skill of certain involuntary body responses such as muscle tension, which can significantly reduce the state of chronic pain.

6) Hypnotherapy

Hypnotherapy is also an important relaxation technique for reduction of chronic pain. This technique focuses on inducing a deep state of relaxation for the reduction of fear, tension and anxiety, which is concomitant with pain.

Other relaxation techniques used for treating chronic pain include Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST), Coping Relaxation, Time-out relaxation and Triangular deep breathing.