Episode 45: What does the pain relief in fibromyalgia come down to?
Episode 45: What does the pain relief in fibromyalgia really come down to?
So Excited to be here, brining you episode #45.
The focus of today’s episode is zeroing in on what is the pain reduction really about. I had an epiphany very recently and realized that I have to share it with you because it just may help some of you to think of pain relief in fibromyalgia and other chronic pain conditions differently.
While I was still working on this episode, 2 days ago, I was in a car accident, I rear-ended a truck. I got distracted while in slow traffic, the line of cars stopped at a light and I did not realize this soon enough. The reason I am mentioning this is that I had yet another re-inforcement of the concept I am talking to you about!
So the question is: what does the pain relief in chronic pain and fibromyalgia really come down to? In a nutshell, the pain relief comes down to finding evidence for and focusing on all the ways our nervous system and brain ARE working FOR US as opposed to looking for evidence of how they do not. That’s it.
Let me explain.
If you listen to enough of my episodes or videos you know I view the process of recovery from chronic pain in 3 main steps or strategies:
- Understand and embrace the concept of neuroplasticity – meaning – accept that the brain/central nervous system generate the pain (and as result can take it away because the neuronal connections are born and severed /deleted every day based on our practices and habits)
- BELIEVE the pain relief is possible AND available to you
- Lastly, engage the relaxation response that makes our primitive brains feel SAFE.
I notice that often, even myself, being an experienced pain coach that I am, I tend to first think of the worst case scenario when I experience worsening of pain. Basically, my brain offers the following thought: “You see?? It is NOT working! Your pain cannot and will not get better!” And in the past I would succumb to that thought which would lead me down the spiral of doom and would not lead to anything good, seriously.
The good news is that this is normal, Our brains, our lovely brains that want to keep us safe and comfortable and love familiarity above all else, even it is not serving us, will offer us that thought. And our job is to say, well, dear brain, how about focusing on ways this DOES work?
The way to achieve this, is to sit down with a pen and paper, and think of all the times your body DID do something that may have delighted or surprised you, or may not have even registered in your attention, basically you took it for granted. I will give you some examples:
- Think of one activity that you enjoy doing that you can actually forget a little or completely about your pain. Meaning, when you think about the pain then you may feel it but in the moment you are completely lost in the flow of things and you are blissfully unaware of any pain. This is a proof our nervous system is working as designed and intended. It takes away from the pain because it is focusing on something pleaseant and the pleasant and joy neurotransmitters temporarily win over the pain inducing ones.
- Think of ANY time your pain was clearly worse when you were stressed out or under enormous pressure – whether in personal life or in a workplace. Your pain was worse, you did not sleep well, you were more tired. This is a proof that the system is working. The stress response is resulting in increased production of stress related chemicals that make us feel worse.
- Have you ever felt excited about something, super excited, either an event you were going to go to, or a new movie, or a concert or a vacation you dreamt up and paid for, and transiently you could feel less burden of a pain? How about being excited about some project at home or at work where you were applying yourself creatively or in a leadership position – have you felt a jolt of energy, life force, energy to live and enjoy? The research has shown that when we feel good about ourselves, we feel better physically.
- At the time of my accident this past week, within moments of hitting the truck ahead of me, I started experiencing almost immediate sharp pains in my neck and upper back. Then as I moved my head the pain was worse, and I could feel my upper back spasming. It was fascinating how fast that happened. After calling 911 and securing my car out of traffic, I started actively communicating with my tight muscles and brain. I was still shaking a little but I was safe. I slowed down my breathing and actively relaxed my muscles of my neck and shoulders. And I was telling myself the words: “stay calm, breath, stay calm. This will be ok. Stay calm, breathe, you are safe, this will be ok”. It was incredible that it helped in the moment. I engaged this technique multiple times in the next 48 hours as I was dealing with the fallout of the accident and taking care of all the things. My pain was gone within 24-36 houts in my neck. I kid you neck. I get chronic pain by my right shoulderplain that flares with stress and it was still there but it subsided too.
To me that’s a clear evidence of how our nervous system and pain generators in the brain LISTEN and RESPOND to what we feed them. The words we tell ourselves matter because our primitive brains, and the structures in the brain whose sole purpose is to look for danger are looking and listening. And we can direct them.
So I invite all of you to think of ways how the “system” meaning our central nervous system, IS working right, is working for us.
Above all, I wish you a very happy and prosperous and safe and HEALHTY new year of 2023.