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Self-Care Strategies

There are pain treatments you can do on your own, after some minor coaching from a healthcare provider. Some of these strategies are already being used in the military. Many of these self-care practices harness the power of your mind to control pain, and they often teach you how to focus on something other than your pain. They also can produce deep relaxation, which can reduce stress and pain. They often have few side effects and can be used together with other pain management treatments.

Mind-Body Strategies

HPRC's InfoReveal on mind-body strategies for pain
A printable version of this information is here [PDF].
Relaxation, meditation, imagery, and redirection strategies such as distraction can be helpful at reducing some kinds of pain. These mind-body techniques help you consciously relax your body, slow your breathing, reduce your blood pressure, and improve your sense of well-being. These techniques also help you focus on other things besides pain.

Additional mind-body Resources

Relaxation and Meditation Practices
The Alternative Medicine Foundation has an overview of various mind-body techniques for relaxation.

Mind-Body Skills for Regulating the Autonomic Nervous System
The Defense Centers of Excellence developed this comprehensive overview of mind-body treatments, including meditation, breathing techniques, and imagery.

Stress Control
HPRC has links to a number of web pages and documents that provide information about stress reduction, which can often help manage pain.

Relaxation Techniques for Health: An Introduction [PDF]
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) has an excellent overview about how different relaxation techniques can be used to improve health, including pain.

Headaches and CAM
An overview about using complementary medicine, including meditation and relaxation, to manage headache pain.

New Hampshire State Government - Stress Management Techniques
The New Hampshire State government provides a list of stress management techniques that might be helpful in lowering stress and reducing pain.

Biofeedback

HPRC's InfoReveal on biofeedback for pain
A printable version of this information can be found here [PDF].
Biofeedback helps you learn more about your body to reduce pain through stress reduction and relaxation. Biofeedback may work for musculoskeletal pain such as neck, back, and shoulder pain, and it sometimes works for stress/tension headaches and migraines. HPRC prepared this InfoReveal to provide you with more information.

Additional biofeedback resources

Mind-Body Skills for Regulating the Autonomic Nervous System
The Defense Centers of Excellence developed this comprehensive overview of mind-body treatments; information on biofeedback can be found on page 37.

Headaches and Complementary Health Approaches [PDF]
NCCAM also provides an overview about using complementary medicine, including biofeedback, to manage headache pain.

TENS

HPRC's InfoReveal on transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation for pain (TENS)
A printable version of this information can be found here [PDF].
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is sort of an "electrical massage." TENS works by sending more “traffic” to the brain to block pain signals. Treatments generally provide short-term relief for neuropathic/phantom pain, but rarely offer long-term relief. This InfoReveal from HPRC reveals more information you may find useful.

Additional TENS resources

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation
This overview of TENS from the American Cancer Society describes its uses, evidence for its usefulness, and other resources.

Exploring the evidence for using TENS to relieve pain
This 2012 Nursing Times review article explores the usefulness of TENS for pain, how it works, and more.