pain management

Pain is something everyone will experience at some point in their life ~ and probably often. In fact, moderate pain in the form of stress, challenges, and disappointments can help us build character, resiliance, and self-reliance. Kids who are allowed to pick up a cookie off the floor (1-minute rule?) may, according to the results of some studies, develop better immune systems via the bacteria that accompanies the cookie to the mouth.

However, some pain, especially when it’s severe or chronic, can also contribute to cynicism, despair and even suicide. I know I find my tolerance for minor stresses deteriorating when I am experiencing pain; imagine what losing a limb in an explosion along the road to Baghdad can do to your outlook on life!

Many of us, much of the time, quite appropriately focus on pain prevention and risk reduction — looking both ways before entering traffic, cutting vegetables away from our hand instead of towards it, and so on. In fact, much of the pain people experience is “unnecessary” in the sense that it could easily have been forestalled. The ultimate tragedy, for some, is the death of a child in a situation that could have been avoided.

But, when pain occurs despite our efforts at living painlessly, how can we turn the occasion of pain into the opportunity for benefit? What are some of the steps that enable one to take something positive from pain?

One important tool is simply an awareness that pain can be beneficial. For instance, tooth pain signals a cavity which, when treated, prevents worse pain when our tooth or gums decay beyond repair. Thus, rather than exclusively focusing on the negative aspect ~ ow, this hurts! ~ we include an aknowledgement that the pain was preventative in some way. Also, responding to pain by investigating its source and nature, instead of ignoring it or toughing it out, enables us to take advantage of the warning regarding greater, impending harm that pain sometimes offers.

Another is to use the experience of pain to deepen our empathy and compassion for others in dire straits. Having “been there, done that”, we know how hard it is for them and so can offer companionship and caring to those who may, at the moment, have little ability to notice anything positive about their situation.

Yet another is to use pain as a path towards greater self-awareness and understanding — certain religious practices, such as scourging and other forms of asceticism (lying on a bed of nails is quite painful, at least initially) make explicit this possibly beneficial aspect of pain. Yoga, for example, can be (partially) about the pain that one breathes through rather than avoids.

Here endeth the thoughts for today…be well!


~ by mjmmft on December 15, 2006.

One Response to “pain management”

  1. Tooth pain can be prevented if you just follow the healthy habit of brushing your teeth 3 times a day. ”

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