Is it possible to think that you no longer suffer? So thinks a doctor with over 20 years of experience.
Dr Deepak Ravindran, clinical head of pain medicine at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, has spent more than two decades specializing in the management of acute and chronic pain.
He found what he believes to be a compelling link between an individual’s mental state and the severity of pain experienced.
Dr Deepak Ravindran, clinical lead for pain medicine at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, thinks you can use simple mental techniques to get relief from pain (stock image)
“Over the past 15 to 20 years, understanding of neuroscience and the study of the brain and spinal cord has emerged using advanced MRI techniques that actually provide scientific evidence that the mind and the body are one,” he told FEMAIL.
“In certain conditions like chronic pain, research actually proves that mind-body techniques can be as effective as traditional techniques like medication and surgery.”
These mental practices may not entirely cure an individual of pain, but they can certainly help. In some cases more effectively than traditional medical interventions.
He continued: “We now understand the phenomenon of neuroplasticity which is the ability of the brain and nerves to be plastic and to rewire themselves in such a way that they can overcome pain..
“Along with this, we realize the role and contribution of gene-driven lifestyle and personality, and indeed they could combine with environmental factors that can trigger a particular gene in an undesirable way.”
Dr. Ravindran describes his method in his book, The Pain-Free Mindset. Here he shares five practical tips on how you can start taking control of your pain with FEMAIL…
Activate your “internal security system” with the “3-4-5 breath”
A simple way to incorporate a breathing technique is a 3-4-5 approach where you inhale for three seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, then exhale for five seconds, says Dr Ravindran (stock image)
One of the most reliable and easily controllable ways to activate the safety system (the parasympathetic system) is through breathing.
When we can exhale longer than we inhale, it can activate the safety system in a much more predictable way and reassure the brain that everything is safe.
A simple way to incorporate a breathing technique is a 3-4-5 approach where you inhale for three seconds, hold your breath for four seconds, then exhale for five seconds.
Even practicing this for two to five minutes will help you take between 10 and 20 breaths, which can often help calm the nervous system considerably.
Another technique that can be easy to get started with is the 5-5-5 technique which would involve 5 seconds of inhaling, five seconds of holding, then five seconds of exhaling.
Focus on a word, phrase or object
One technique for trying to relax is to focus on a word, phase, or object — an answer written by Howard cardiologist and mind body teacher Herbert Benson.
It aims to achieve a state of flow or focused awareness of ourselves using a repeated word, phrase or action.
The use of Christian prayer beads or the Hindu “jap mala” are examples of object-focus.
This allows the nerves in our brain to switch from what is called a default network to a different set of nerve circuits called flow circuits.
This can then help to relax the nervous system and therefore reduce physical pain.
Try yoga or tai chi
There are also studies indicating that yoga and Tai Chi can be beneficial and relieve pain. Image bank
Yoga and Tai Chi, also known as mind-body techniques, are now increasingly popular.
Exercises are already common, with GPs and hospital doctors recommending the tasks for different conditions and age groups.
There are also studies indicating that yoga and Tai Chi can be beneficial and relieve pain.
Both exercises embrace the concept that pain can be present in both mind and body and relieved by slow rhythmic movements.
Yoga and tai chi can help control breathing as well as stretch deconditioned muscles and improve them.
There are plenty of videos and apps that can help you get started, while local gyms and health centers may also offer classes. These can be of great benefit.
Dr. Ravindran describes his method in his book, The Pain-Free Mindset
Try to adopt a passive, non-judgmental, compassionate attitude towards your thoughts, as this is central to the concept of mindfulness-based stress reduction.
This technique has a very good evidence base for managing chronic pain using mind/body approaches.
There is now good scientific evidence to suggest that when people are good mindful meditators there are positive changes in their nerves.
A mindfulness-based practice doesn’t have to be just about meditation.
This can be any physical activity that patients feel safe and enjoy doing, whether it is eating, running, jogging, or going to the gym. sport.
Be selective in the language you use…even when thinking
Evidence has shown that the type of language we use can be very powerful in shaping our thoughts, and therefore our behaviors and actions.
This is important because the language we use and the stories we tell can cause dangerous thoughts and actions, which can lead to our immune system being activated.
This activation of the immune system can release chemicals that can trigger a surge of chronic pain circuits in many different parts of the brain.
Journaling your positive thoughts at the start of the day and writing down a few things you are grateful for are also examples of positive thoughts that can change your mindset and reduce pain.dr
Ultimately, many mind-body techniques are used to relieve pain and they all now take advantage of the principle of neuroplasticity.
The growing success of these techniques shows that they can be safe and sustainable long-term strategies for overcoming pain and, in some cases, becoming pain-free.
The Pain Free Mindset: 7 Steps to Take Control and Overcome Chronic Pain by k by Dr Deepak Ravindran, £14.99, Vermilion
Can you THINK that you are no longer in pain?