How to ignore crippling pain

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Can I really ignore crippling pain just by telling myself the pain is benign even though the pain brings me to my knees? How to break the obsession with pain. How to break the conditioning that certain activities will hurt?

When approaching activities which you think are going to cause pain, there are 2 approaches:

1) try a very gentle level of the activity to start with and gradually build up. At the most extreme, start by just looking at the computer or excercise bike, no more. Then if you feel confident that's not causing pain, next day sit in front of it / on it. Next day put your hand on the keyboard / feet on the pedals. The following day, press one key / give a tiny push with the pedal. Build up as slowly or as quickly as you want to.

2) just ignore the pain, tell yourself the activity is NOT causing the pain and go for it

Neither of these approaches is "correct" or better overall. Go with whichever approach you think is suitable for YOU in your current position. Some people have reported that the 2nd approach worked for them, but if you have a big fear of the pain / of returning to activity then the gradual approach is probably best because it will help you overcome the fear (fear of pain can itself trigger pain).

A thread about slowly building up your tolerance

Another thread about approaching certain activities which one associates with pain

A thread about being overwhelmed by the pain. Contains some excellent advice.

Don't be afraid to continue taking painkillers in the early stages (and even later if the pain is unbearable). Pain wears your energy down and it may be necessary to take the painkillers to give you the energy to talk to yourself and recondition your mind.

On page 23 of Healing Back Pain, Dr. Sarno says that because the goal is to prevent acute attacks rather than managing them when they do, he doesn't give his patients specific instructions for what to do during an acute attack. However, he is occasionally asked to give advice to someone having an acute attack, and in those cases, he says that it is essentially a question of waiting it out. He may prescribe a strong painkiller, but doesn't prescribe anti-inflammatory medications because there is no inflammation.

See also:

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