Strategies for Coping with Chronic Pain

Pain is the body’s way to indicate you that something is wrong. It can occur anywhere, anytime and for any reason. Also, it can appear suddenly or build slowly over time and can range from mild to severe.

Strategies for Coping with Chronic Pain

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) indicate that acute pain if left untreated can lead to chronic pain. “Chronic pain disables more people than cancer or heart disease”, according to Drs. Angela Koestler and Ann Myers, authors of Understanding Chronic Pain.

While pain can be treated with medications, it is better to look for alternative ways to manage chronic pain. This is because excess of medication can lead to disastrous side effects.

Chronic Pain Management

Below are 10 chronic pain control techniques that are effective for pain control.

Detach Yourself from Pain

the best way to manage chronic pain is to detach yourself from it. How? Well, this involves separating the painful body part from the rest of the body mentally, or imagining that the body and mind are separate.

Altered focus

This is a way for demonstrating how powerfully the mind can change body sensations. Try to focus your mind on any specific non-painful part of the body, like on your hand, foot, eyes, etc. and alter sensation in that part of the body. For instance, imagine your hand warming up. This will help you take your mind away from focusing on the source of your pain and you’ll feel less pain.

Mental anesthesia

This technique involves imagining an injection of numbing anesthetic or applying a topical numbing cream onto the painful area. Likewise, you may imagine a calming and cooling ice pack being placed onto the painful area.

Sensory splitting

This method involves dividing the sensation including pain, pins, burning, and needles into separate parts. For example, if the leg pain or back pain feels hot to you, focus just on the sensation of the heat and not on the hurting.

Mental analgesia

Building on the mental anesthesia concept, this technique involves imagining an injection of a strong pain killer, such as morphine, into the painful area. Alternatively, you can imagine your brain producing massive amount of endorphins, the natural pain relieving substance of the body, and having them flow to the painful parts of your body.

Age progression/regression

When you’re in pain, utilize your mind’s eye to project yourself forward or backward in time. Instruct yourself to act “as if” this image were true. This is a surefire technique to ease pain.

Symbolic Imagery

Imagine a symbol representing your chronic pain, like a loud, irritating noise. Slowly, decrease the irritating qualities of this symbolization, for example reduce the volume of the noise. This will help reduce your pain.

Positive imagery

Emphasize on a pleasant place that you could imagine going such as walking at a beachside, mountains, etc. where you can feel carefree, safe and relaxed. Counting

Counting silently is a good way to deal with painful situations. Try to count your breaths, heartbeats, holes in an acoustic ceiling, floor tiles, or simply create mental images and count them.

Pain movement

Try to move your chronic pain from one area of your body to another. Choose an area where the pain is easier to cope with. For instance, mentally move your chronic back pain slowly into your hand.


Some of these techniques can be learned best with the help of a medical professional. Usually it takes practice for these techniques to become effective and helping alleviate chronic pain. Experts often advise to work on pain coping strategies for about 30 minutes 3 times every week. You’ll find that with practice the relaxation and chronic pain control become stronger and last longer after you are done.

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