Chronic Pain Management Boston MA

People with chronic pain often feel as if they are waging a battle with their body all day, which can intensify pain by creating stress and interfering with sleep. But learning to relax—despite your level of pain at any given moment—can help break this vicious cycle of stress, sleeplessness, and despair.

Mark Austin Howard
(617) 638-6565
1 Boston Medical Ctr Pl
Boston, MA
Specialty
Psychiatry

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Elvin G Hernandez
(617) 638-8540
85 E Newton St # M802
Boston, MA
Specialty
Psychiatry

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Steven M Greenberg
(617) 724-1874
15 Parkman St
Boston, MA
Specialty
Psychiatry

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Margo Knapp
(781) 764-2501
82 Marlborough St
Boston, MA
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Psychiatry

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Kristin S Russell
(617) 724-6300
55 Fruit St
Boston, MA
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Psychiatry

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Elisabeth Sue Robinson
(617) 724-5600
55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA
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Psychiatry

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Karleyton C Evans
(617) 724-0244
15 Parkman St
Boston, MA
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Psychiatry

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Paula Karen Rauch
(617) 724-3923
55 Fruit St
Boston, MA
Specialty
Psychiatry, Child Psychiatry

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Sean Augustine Minjares
(617) 636-4663
750 Washington St
Boston, MA
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Psychiatry

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Russell H Horwitz
(617) 724-0938
55 Fruit Street
Boston, MA
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Psychiatry

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Active Coping for Chronic Pain

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By Carol Krucoff

It’s a common scenario: Someone with a terrible backache watches a movie and afterwards finds that her pain has decreased.

This doesn’t mean her pain isn’t real or is “all in her head,” says psychologist Dennis Turk, PhD, a professor of anesthesiology and pain research at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. “It simply illustrates that the brain has a finite capacity to process information. When you’re distracted by a movie, you’re not paying as much attention to how bad you feel.”

New research into how the brain modulates pain suggests that simple strategies—such as diverting your attention and relaxation techniques—can profoundly influence the perception of pain, notes Turk, who is past president of the American Pain Society. “Every time you think or talk about your pain, muscles in that area tense. Our research shows that muscle activity increases up to 1,300 percent as you talk about your pain.”

That’s why Turk encourages people with chronic pain to adopt active coping skills that can reduce symptoms and dramatically improve their quality of life. Most important, he says, “is a perspective shift. Stop thinking of yourself as a patient—it’s very demoralizing and relinquishes all the power to others. Instead, recognize that you are a person with a chronic condition that you must learn how to manage.”

Based on his work with thousands of people with chronic pain over more than 25 years, Turk developed a 10-step program of self-management strategies, which he outlines in The Pain Survival Guide: How to Reclaim Your Life (American Psychological Association, 2006) co-authored with Dutch pain expert Frits Winter, PhD. “Stop looking for a magic cure,” says Turk. “Find ways to put your pain in the background, instead of the foreground so that you can get on with your life.” Key strategies include:

Relaxation Techniques. People with chronic pain often feel as if they are waging a battle with their body all day, which can intensify pain by creating stress and interfering with sleep. But learning to relax—despite your level of pain at any given moment—can help break this vicious cycle of stress, sleeplessness, and despair. Relaxation skills can be learned, and it’s important to find a technique that suits your personality, then schedule it in your daily routine.

One of the most effective techniques, controlled breathing, involves switching from shallow “chest breathing” to deep diaphragmatic breathing. To learn this calming skill, lie on your back and place your hand on your stomach, just below the navel. Take a slow deep breath through your nose and completely fill your lungs, so that the hand on your abdomen gently rises as you inhale and falls as you exhale.

Next, visualize a balloon in your abdomen. Each time you breathe in, imagine the balloon filling with air. As you breathe out, imagine the balloon collapsing. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose and let your abdomen rise as you breathe ...

Author: Carol Krucoff

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