Pain management continues to be a challenging undertaking for healthcare providers. There are many patients who are still not getting adequate pain relief even though doctors treat them with the usual protocol – medications, injections, physical therapy and in worst case scenarios, surgery – they continue to suffer from chronic pain and experience no benefit from these treatment strategies.
When people have chronic pain, they often learn to live with it. Why? Because they don’t have a choice. But their quality of life is poor. The problem is that doctors still are unwilling to accept the fact that these patients, who see no pain relief with medications and surgery, are suffering from a different type of pain – a pain that is caused due to psychosomatic factors.
It was Dr. Sarno who first came up with this theory and proposed that there might be a connection between our mind and our body. He believed that there are some people who suffer from pain because of unresolved emotional issues that are locked in their subconscious mind. The only way to relieve this pain is by unlocking these emotions and resolving them.
One effective strategy that he recommends for dealing with emotions that we’ve blocked out is journaling. Journaling can be quite beneficial as writing about your pain, how you feel, why you feel what you feel at certain times, what are the things/events that trigger how you feel etc. can be cathartic. That is why healthcare providers who understand The Mind-Body syndrome encourage people who have pain to make a journal and record what they are feeling on a daily basis.
Journaling not only provides you insight into what triggers your pain but it also provides you and your pain specialists/life coach an idea about the degree of your pain and how it is affecting you and the people around you. This identification process can help uncover the cause of your pain and can make it easier for you to manage it.
What Should Your Journal Contain?
- Write down all the triggers that cause or worsen your pain. This may include food, noise, weather, stress, work-related or interpersonal issues
- State all important changes that are occurring in your life
- Mention medications and herbal products you are taking and any side effects that may be attributed to them
- Mention if you have started a new medication lately or if the dose of a previous medication has changed.
- Discuss the emotional symptoms that you believe might be causing your pain
- Talk about the intensity of your pain. Is it continuous? Is it sharp? Dull?
- Discuss how frequent your pain is. Is it continuous? Intermittent?
- How is your sleep?
- Are you able to eat?
- Did you do any physical activity, walk, etc.?
- Did you work today?
- Did you do anything in the home?
These and other similar questions can help you evaluate and understand your pain and what your subconscious mind might be hiding from you. Journaling helps you make sense of your pain and a time will come when you will be able to recognize a pattern. This will help you take control of your pain. If you note that your pain is common after interaction with a certain person, you can identify that person as one of your pain triggers. Similarly, if your pain is commonly associated with a certain activity or a certain situation, you can prevent that pain from occurring by avoiding that situation altogether.
Recording the Pain
When you write your journal, describe the pain in detail. While it may not be practical to write when you have a pain episode, you can always recall the details and note them down once the pain has diminished. Try and make at least 3-entries a day as this will help you get a better sense of your pain.
Journaling can help you understand your triggers and your pain better. Once you start to understand your pain, you will be better able to deal with.