Pain is not just a simple manifestation of discomfort. It is a fairly complex occurrence that is related to both physiological and psychological factors. Physiologically speaking, our doctors can prescribe all kinds of medicines to help us control pain. However, psychological mechanisms of pain tolerance are now known, which have led to improved treatments for pain.
The Two Different Kinds Of Pain
Human beings suffer chronic pain and acute pain, with each of us responding differently to both. Chronic pain is a long term pain that seems to go on and on and stays with you through days. Acute pain is sharp but brief. People suffering from chronic pain and not saying a way out of it can suffer from acute depression as well. The body becomes more resistant to painkillers over time, and it becomes imperative to find alternative methods to control the pain.
The Difference Between Pain Threshold and Pain Intolerance
Your pain threshold is the least experience of pain that you can perceive, while pain tolerance refers to the greatest level of pain that you can tolerate. Both your pain threshold and pain tolerance change over time, along with ageing bones and brittle nerves. If you were able to perceive pain a little less as a kid and could run on a sprained foot, when you’re older you’ll refuse to put your sprained foot down because of the pain. The more you are able to resist the pain and increase your pain threshold, the greater your pain tolerance will be.
How to Increase Pain Tolerance
You can increase your pain tolerance using a number of techniques, encompassing a wide range of behavioral and cognitive techniques as detailed in the following sections:
Controlled deep or shallow breathing can help you control the pain and push it to your peripheral awareness. This method has actually been shown to successfully reduce pain. Women during childbirth are coached to breathe deep and focus on their breathing while the body combats to deliver the baby. Breath control can help increase your body’s tolerance to sharp, stabbing pains.
Surprising but true; using positive self-talk, you can increase your pain tolerance while experiencing episodes of acute pain. This has successfully worked for several people, both in and out of clinical conditions. Athletes use this method to control pain; they are asked to repeat and internalize positive statements when they sprain or injure themselves to fight the pain. These positive statements include things such as “I don’t feel the pain”, “My foot does not hurt” and so on. Words can be a healing salve, a devastating weapon, or a tool of persuasion and manipulation. Your words can have the same effect on you as they have on others. It is up to you to garner the power of words to help you heal, rather than destroy yourself.
Meditation is a technique credited with being effective at increasing tolerance for extended periods. For people suffering chronic pain, meditation is a long term pain solution to increase pain tolerance. Not only does meditation relax your mind and soothe your nerves, it helps you internalize your focus, taking focus away from the pain. You perceive the pain less; your pain perception is pushed to the periphery of your consciousness, helping you deal with it better. Meditation also helps you calm down so that your sleep quality is better, which helps greatly in tolerating pain.
Self-hypnosis is shown to be very effective in dealing with pain. A twice-daily half-hourly session of self-hypnosis in case of chronic pain and an as needed session for acute pain works very well, if you do it well. What essentially happens is that you hypnotize yourself into a deep sleep-like state where your conscious mind accesses your subconscious and plants sublimal messages into it. Don’t repeat the message that you don’t feel the pain. Rather, tell your subconscious that you feel the strength flowing into your veins. Visualize yourself as a strong, invincible and tightly muscled. Over time, self-hypnosis can help you perceive the pain a little less each time.
One thing is for certain; you can tolerate pain and work towards building greater tolerance more successfully if you are physically fit. Illnesses and metabolic disorders such as diabetes can weaken your entire framework, making it difficult for you to use positive self-talk as a pain relieving method.
As your fitness level increases, the pain signals that are sent via the nervous system to your brain are less acute. What an unfit person might perceive as a sharp, stabbing pain will be a dull ache to one who’s fit and conditioned. So unless you can do the mind over body thing successfully, it’s best to keep yourself fit at all times and succeed at using alternative methods to increase your pain tolerance.