Chronic pain is memory.
Memories can be good or bad. I don’t mean in the sense of the the emotions they contain. I mean in the sense that they have an effect on how those memories let you process your life. How it frames your future.
Good memories will let you move forward. Bad memories will hold you back. Any memory can be a “good” memory, if you can learn the lesson it is trying to teach you. It need not necessarily be the lesson you “want” to learn.
Chronic pain is memory. The pain, can be physical or spiritual. The solution is to learn from it. Not, relive it. If you’re being forced to relive it, that’s because you’ve not learnt from it.
People deal with painful memories by locking them away, hiding them under alcohol, by distracting themselves with the frivolous, or by avoiding triggers.
People deal with chronic physical pain the same way. Locking down parts of the body that hurt and then completely forgetting about it, because the lockdown is so effective(temporarily). By distracting themselves with life, work and relationships. By drowning the pain with painkillers, drugs and alcohol. And by avoiding getting into situations that they initially remember as having caused their pain.
The coping mechanisms for chronic musculoskeletal pain and mental suffering are the same. They are the same, because the brain/body responds to them the same way.
You may think that’s a bad thing. I think it provides opportunities. What works on the body will have a closely corresponding analogy that works on the mind and vice versa. Separating the mind from the body was a stupid idea anyway.
Right. So now, you’re saying- Screw philosophy! Tell me how to get rid of the damn pain!
You’ve not learnt the lesson, young padwan. Pain is your teacher and you need to learn. Pain is a very patient teacher and will wait with you, life long, till you learn(or die) Kind of like that Tom Cruise starrer ” Edge of tomorrow”. Live. Die. Repeat. Every morning you wake up from dreamland, you’re getting another stab at the mission. Use it well, and you’ll make progress day by day.
You can have someone showing you the ropes. But at some point you’re going to have to cut them loose and move forward on your own, if the monster is the big one. The further you progress in the game, the more alone you’ll be. And at some point, you’ll be the one showing the tricks to the grasshoppers.
Anyway, here are a few ropes.
1. If there’s a locked range of motion, try to bring it back. Don’t kick the door down. Pick the lock. Take it slow. Lubricate the hinges. If you want a literal explanation- repeated conscious, mindful movement. Also, learn breath control(lock picking)
2. Don’t distract yourself with “stuff”. If you know there’s a problem somewhere, don’t bury it. Go after it. I’m not saying put your life on hold. I’m saying let your efforts at pain resolution continue, while life continues. Make the pain a part of your life. Please note that I didn’t it call it pain “management”. I despise “managers”
3. Painkillers, alcohol and drugs- for chronic pain? You choose. But make sure you’ve tried everything else. These are acts of desperation.
4. Train yourself to deal with the situation that caused the pain the first time. Become stronger. Become more aware of your body mechanics, so that you can push yourself to the limit and back off just before you break. Avoiding triggers will not help you do that. Be prepared for injury. But don’t go asking for it.