The heavy bleeding and painful periods that come as symptoms of uterine fibroids aren’t the only items in the package labeled, “Life with Fibroids”. Unfortunately, chronic pain can also become a part of life for sufferers of this condition. Chronic pain can cripple your functioning at work and at home, destroy any kind of social life and cause havoc onto your psychological health, on top of any physical conditions involved.
Keeping your mind off the pain
As daunting as it may sound, there are ways to keep your mind off the pain. If you feel like pain may be a long-term situation for you, it’s worth investing the time and effort into figuring out how to fit the pain into your life in the most manageable way possible. You may have a few options:
- Search out other sensory data. It is truly possible to train your brain to concentrate on the sensory input around you, rather than the pain coming from within. Start by taking a deep, hearty breath and sincerely observing what’s going on around you… what a gorgeous little bird off on the horizon with a magnificent sunset behind him! The soup your neighbor has on the stove is producing such a tantalizing aroma and the texture of your couch is so rich and luxurious. If you’re not in the most ideal sensory situation, take up the practice of guided imagery and create it yourself.
- Break the pain down into its elements. Framing this chronic condition into a mental repeat of, “Pain, pain, pain!” can magnify the effects of the condition. One psychological tool that can help is called “sensory splitting”, concentrating on that pain to see what it really is at any given moment. You may feel intense heat or cold, tingling, throbbing or any other of a spectrum of specific sensations and they may vary from time to time. These individual experiences are less overwhelming than the notion of endless pain.
- Become intensely involved in an activity of your preference. If you already have a hobby or special interest, you’re halfway there. If not, ask friends or family for suggestions, peruse the internet and check out what’s offered in your area to find an activity that clicks with your heart and soul. Immerse yourself and practice mindfulness Be in touch with the experience. Notice the details, your senses and emotions. Let this mindfulness expand to cover other aspects of your life, too.
Exercising the pain away
Exercise comes in many shapes and forms with something for everyone. In general, you have two main categories from which to choose. There’s more high impact, aerobic type of activity and lower impact exercises in the form of yoga or similar methods.
- A German study found that techniques used in yoga, promoting Deep and Slow Breathing (DSB), can significantly influence the processing of pain, promoting relaxation to lessen pain perception. Pilates has also been proven effective in the treatment of chronic pain. However, both yoga and pilates have a wide range of movements to varying levels of safety, depending upon your particular situation. It is therefore important, as with all forms of exercise, to consult a competent instructor, or your doctor, as to what would be best routine for you.
- A number of studies have shown that aerobic exercise raises the body’s tolerance for pain, even stating, “…The greater the exercise-induced muscle pain, the greater the analgesic effect.” It seems that exercise does not need to be at maximum intensity to take effect. Starting slowly and building up as you go is suggested as the best way to go. Once again, consult both your doctor and your instructor in order to do this in the most efficient, yet safest way possible.
Emotional support goes a long way
Struggles with depression or anxiety are a fact of life for 30-50% of those suffering from chronic pain. Problematic symptoms can include any of the following:
- Lack of interest in activities
- Depressed mood or irritability
- Change in sleep patterns
- Changes in appetite
- Feelings of guilt or despair
- Lack of energy
- Trouble concentrating
- Suicidal thoughts
Peer support goes a long way in battling the blues, and even for more minor issues, having an understanding shoulder to lean on is always a help. The internet has made the process of finding an in-person group close to you easier than ever. Try to find an arrangement that will work well for you on the long term, so far as the people involved, location and logistics. Set this up as a workable solution.
For some, regularly attending a group isn’t a realistic option. If this is your situation, see what you can find online. This literally does open up a world of possibilities for you. Support groups and forums, with or without the help of a professional moderator, abound in tens of languages and are available 24/7.
Use your tools
Exercising your brain, your body and social circles can lighten the load for sufferers of chronic pain. If this is part of your set of fibroid symptoms, it’s well worth the investment in finding out what works for you. Since you’re the one who knows your body best, you’ll be the first to see and feel the effects of your choices. Make those choices count!