Back pain is a very real problem. Eight out of ten people in the United States experience it at some point in their lives, usually as a result of some kind of injury or degenerative process. Though the best way to address chronic neck or back pain is to seek help from a cervical spine specialist or lumbar spine specialist in New Jersey. There are also steps that you can take to help you deal with the pain that you’re experiencing.
While your physical experience is based on very real sensations and pressures in your spine, there are some mental approaches that can help you to make them more tolerable. You may have heard people talk about having a high tolerance for pain. This has nothing to do with them having different nerves: instead, it has to do with coping strategies and attitudes.
For some people, pain produces so much anxiety and distress that it can actually make their experience of pain far worse than it would otherwise be. Their psychology actually changes their brain chemistry. Pain arouses certain circuits in your brain, and when it doesn’t go away it arouses other areas in your brain that are tied in to your emotions. The longer you feel pain and the worse you feel, the worse you expect the pain to be and the more you are unable to stop yourself from thinking about it and reacting to it. It also impacts your response to everything else.
This is a frustrating, stressful cycle. The good news is that there are things that you can do to help, and many of them are easy to introduce. One of the most effective ways of dealing with the psychological factors involved in pain is to learn and practice mindfulness. Mindfulness-based stress reduction has been proven to both reduce back pain and improve patient’s coping abilities. Studies have shown that it actually increases brain blood flow, activating relaxation and disrupting the pain circuit.
Though mindfulness does not work for everybody and it does not eliminate the physical source of pain, it has helped many by providing relief while they are seeking a physical solution from their lumbar spine specialist. Other approaches that have proven to be helpful include cognitive behavioral therapy, which has been shown to help prevent acute pain from getting worse or becoming chronic. There are also progressive muscle relaxation exercises that can be learned, and which may provide relief.
For people struggling with back or neck pain, adding a mindfulness practice to your day does not eliminate the source of pain or the pain experience entirely. Mind over matter is not applicable when an injury or degeneration has occurred. However, these practices can prove to be a powerful tool for reducing your stress and anxiety about your pain, and give you a coping mechanism on which you can rely until your physical problem has been addressed.
To learn more about how our lumbar spine specialist in New Jersey can help, contact our office today to set up an appointment.