Mental Health Tips For Coping With Chronic Pain

At My Anti-Aging MD, we pride ourselves on providing Virginia and Florida with a wide range of medical services geared toward anti-aging. From providing addiction medicine and HGH therapy to testosterone replacement and medicinal marijuana, we are committed to providing high-quality and robust anti-aging medical treatments and services. 

Here in this blog space, we typically center our focus on one of our leading provisions — medical marijuana in Florida and Virginia. Why? For many who deal with chronic pain and other ailments, medicinal marijuana can be an effective and natural pain management alternative. Given the opioid crisis of the 21st century in the United States, opting to manage pain in a natural way is found to be safer than such options.

As for the purposes of today’s blog, we won’t be discussing the merits of medicinal marijuana as a coping mechanism for dealing with chronic pain so much as taking a step back to highlight a variety of tips for coping with chronic pain. We want to look at the bigger picture when discussing chronic pain because, as many of our readers know, pain management is a holistic concern. That is, you can paper over the cracks with surface-level remedies, but to truly thrive as an individual (yes, live your best life), it often takes more than a mere prescription.  

To that end, we’ll be offering up a few tips for coping with chronic pain from a lifestyle vantage point. Let’s dive in!

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Big Picture: The Three-Legged Stool

Let’s start with an analogy formulated by Dr. Herbert Benson: the three-legged stool. The Harvard cardiologist proposed that managing chronic pain could be thought of in three parts. That is, as three legs of a stool. 

The first leg is that of interventional, passive treatments. Essentially, this is where you show up to your doctor’s office and lay there as you receive injections, manipulations, or what have you. You are a car at the mechanic in this leg.

The second stool leg is comprised of pharmaceutical interventions. This is where we come in, providing natural and effective pain management treatments such as medical marijuana. There are other kinds of prescriptions of course, but the main point here is that the patient receives a prescription and then takes that medication as instructed by the provider of the patient. 

As any stool with a missing leg will surely topple, the same can be said for a long-term approach to chronic pain management. It must be said that many practices begin with the first leg and end with the second, but today’s blog deals in the third — “active patient” approaches. 

Active patient approaches deal with skills and techniques the patient can proactively employ to achieve a better quality of life while dealing with chronic pain. Psychologists often play a role here, but the main character will always be the patient (you, perhaps). 

Now that we’ve laid the contextual groundwork with a lovely little stool analogy, let the aforementioned tip-providing commence!

Understanding

For many, the first place to start developing an active patient approach is with understanding. If you are diagnosed with a chronic condition, one of the first places you might find information on the matter is online. Whereas people used to rely more heavily on the library and medical professionals to provide them with reliable information, the internet is something of a two-edged sword; it provides instant access to information, yet that information isn’t always accurate. 

There are many things we could write about the importance of developing a deep understanding of a chronic condition, but first and foremost, you need to make sure that your basic knowledge is accurate. 

After that, it’s crucial to understand that, with chronic pain, “hurt does not mean harm” in many instances. You see, the body is trained to stop movement when pain arises as a tactic to “wait it out.” The body will often tense up and contort itself in unnatural ways. For typical, non-chronic pain, this is an effective reactive measure. For chronic pain that happens over and over, it can lead to long-term damage. 

That’s why it’s vital to conceptualize that, often, hurt does not mean harm. It’s important to develop mental techniques to combat what the body and mind automatically do when presented with pain so that chronic issues do not beget other problems. Speak with a psychologist to learn more about developing these mental coping techniques. 

Acceptance

How you think about your pain is something we touched on above, but it’s so important to your general quality of life that it’s worth discussing in more detail. Psychologists talk about how it’s possible for patients to “catastrophize” their condition and pain as being the worst possible situation in the world. While no one should dismiss anyone’s experience, it’s important to be practical; how you think about your condition and life matters! 

According to Ted Jones, PhD, in the journal Practical Pain Management,Acceptance and having appropriate attitudes and expectations about chronic pain are central to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is the most commonly used psychological therapy for pain patients and has been shown to be effective in treating chronic pain conditions.5 Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) also has been shown to be effective for chronic pain conditions.6 These treatments reflect the overall patient skill of what I have termed accepting.

Whether one has a psychologist or is actively practicing CBT or ACT, how you think about your pain has a very real impact on your mental and physical well being. Ted Jones continues in his article with a powerful line: “By helping the patient focus on the skills and resources he or she still has, despite the pain, this can help refocus them from the loss to moving forward. While the patient’s “glass” may not be even half full, there is usually some amount of water left in the glass, and focusing on what is left and where to get new sources of water is a key skill for pain patients.

Schedule Your Free Consultation

In reality, we are only scratching the surface when it comes to the laundry list of coping mechanisms and pain management tips. While today’s blog only highlighted a psychological framework to help our readers, we do hope it’s the starting point for something important in your lives. Remember, real and lasting change takes time. Some days will be better than others. Find support and don’t give up!

As always, if you are interested in finding medical marijuana (or other anti-aging medical services) in Florida or Virginia, do not hesitate to reach out to us or visit our clinics in person. We’d love to assist you! Request your free consultation today

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