5 Ways to Effectively Cope with
Chronic Pain, CRPS/RSD
Understanding Chronic Pain & CRPS, RSD
Chronic pain, unlike the occasional aches from bumping your toe on the bed corner (ouch!), persists for weeks, months, or even years. CRPS, or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, is a particularly nasty form of chronic pain (Frontiers in Psychology, 2022). However, with the right tools and techniques, you can cope with chronic pain and reclaim your life.
1. Virtual Reality Therapy
What is VR Therapy?
Virtual Reality (VR) isn’t just for gamers anymore, and is integrating well into the field of medical and mental health. VR allows users to use various senses to immerse in a new environment, retain focus or train their attention away from chronic pain (Frontiers in Psychology, 2022). Imagine being transported to a serene beach or a tranquil forest, all from the comfort of your living room. That’s the magic of VR therapy.
How VR Therapy May Help Reduce Pain
VR therapy immerses patients in a virtual environment, distracting the brain from pain (Frontiers in Psychology, 2022). It’s like when you’re totally focus on a task, and forget your food in the oven. The brain focuses on the virtual world, reducing the perception of pain and increasing the brains ability to shift focus.
Efficacy of VR Therapy
Studies, including one from Frontiers in Psychology (2022), have shown promising results. Patients reported reduced pain levels and an improved mood after VR sessions. So, if you’ve tried other pain management techniques with little pain relief, reach out to our VR therapist to see if VR therapy is right for you!
VR Therapy for Chronic Pain
2. Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP)
What is Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy?
Ketamine, once known primarily as an anesthetic, has entered the spotlight as a potential game-changer for chronic pain management (Cleveland Clinic, n.d.). Combine it with psychotherapy, and you’ve got KAP – a revolutionary approach that incorporates medical and mental health care.
How KAP helps clients cope with chronic pain
Ketamine works on the brain’s NMDA receptors, altering pain perception (Cleveland Clinic, n.d.). When combined with psychotherapy, it can address both the physical and emotional aspects of pain.
Efficacy of KAP
Research from the Cleveland Clinic (n.d.) has shown that KAP can significantly reduce pain levels in CRPS/RSD patients. So, if you’ve tried other treatments with little relief, reach out to us today about Ketamine Assisted Therapy or learn more by visiting here: At-Home Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy with Mind by Design
3. Mindfulness Practice
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the art of being present (Pathways Health, n.d.).The purpose of Mindfulness practice is to be grounded and present to limit worries, anxieties and “thinking traps”. It’s a gentle reminder to stay in the here and now, rather than wandering off to yesterday’s regrets or tomorrow’s worries.
How Mindfulness helps reduce Pain
- Find a Quiet Spot: Like your favorite cozy corner.
- Close Your Eyes: And take a deep breath.
- Focus on Your Breathing: Feel the air entering and leaving your nostrils.
- Let Thoughts Come and Go: Imagine them as clouds drifting by.
- Stay in the Moment: If your mind wanders, gently bring it back.
For example, if you’re washing dishes, focus on the feel of the water, the sound of the bubbles, and the sight of the clean dishes.
Efficacy of Mindfulness
According to Pathways Health (n.d.), mindfulness can significantly reduce chronic pain. It trains the brain to respond to pain differently, leading to reduced pain perception.
4. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that brings attention to the relationship between our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. CBT techniques are the exercises that help clients break negative thinking patterns effectively.
How CBT helps clients cope with chronic pain
CBT helps reframe negative thought patterns related to pain. For instance, instead of thinking, “I can’t do anything because of the pain,” CBT encourages thoughts like, “I can find ways to manage my pain and still enjoy life.”
Examples of CBT skills
- Thought Journaling: Write down negative thoughts and challenge, reframe or restructure them to promote mental wellness
- Relaxation Techniques: Deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, etc. help with racing thoughts and grounding.
- Goal Setting: Break tasks into manageable steps to reduce pain-related anxiety and ensure realistic expectations for yourself.
Efficacy of CBT for Chronic Pain, CRPS/RSD
CBT has been proven effective in managing chronic pain, as per various studies. It not only reduces pain but also improves the overall quality of life as it focuses on changing thoughts, feelings and behaviors, avoiding stress-inducing thinking patterns and learning new ways to manage stress and anxiety.
5. Acceptance & Commitment Therapy for Chronic Pain
What is Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT)?
ACT focuses on accepting reality as it is, without letting it define your beliefs, make judgements or predictions, or overcompensate through controlling or reactive behaviors. ACT focuses on healthy control and accepting the things that are outside our control, such as pain.
How ACT helps clients cope with RSD
ACT focuses on values and goals, helping patients live a fulfilling life despite pain. It’s not about eliminating pain, but instead, about coexisting with pain and the limits it may bring.
Examples of ACT skills
Defusion Techniques: Visualize pain as an external object, separate from yourself.
Value Identification: Determine what truly matters to you and pursue it despite pain.
Mindfulness: Stay present and engaged in the current moment.
Frontiers in Pain Research. (2023). Understanding Chronic Pain and CRPS. Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpain.2023.1127863/full
Frontiers in Psychology. (2022). Efficacy of VR therapy to help Cope with Chronic Pain. Retrieved from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.1069748/full
Cleveland Clinic. (n.d.). Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy for Chronic Pain. Retrieved from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/when-nothing-seems-to-help-your-crps-ketamine-pain-treatments-may-bring-relief/
Pathways Health. (n.d.). Mindfulness for Chronic Pain. Retrieved from https://www.pathways.health/blog/mindfulness-for-chronic-pain/