Learn How To Use Deep Breathing Exercises For Your CRPS or Persistent Pain
Understand how breathing exercises can be a helpful self management tool when you live with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) or chronic pain.
There are many alternative and natural remedies or treatments to help you and your chronic or persistent pain and conditions such as CRPS, ME, Fibromyalgia, arthritis. One of those remedies are Deep Breathing Exercises. In this article you will learn how to use deep breathing exercises to help you cope with you your CRPS or Persistent Pain.
Although breathing exercises will not cure your chronic pain or CRPS, it could help get you through the day or help you with a flare up of your pain or symptoms. Breathing exercises are a good self management tool to have and to know.
Why is Breathing Good To Help You & Your CRPS or Chronic Pain?
Breathing exercises such as the ones we’ve outlined below, not only does it relax your mind, lessen stress and tension but it will also make you and your brain focus on something totally separate from your pain or flare up.
When you are in a state of frustration, stress, tension or pain your mind and body are not in a sense of relaxation and this is what is the aim to change. So when you start to slow right down and begin to draw in some deep breaths, the brain and mind begin to slow down and to relax.
This then gets a message sent from the brain to the rest of your body and soon after both the body and mind will become relaxed, your blood pressure will drop, your heart stops pounding and racing fast and your heavy fast breathing begins to calm down.
Breathing and the Nervous System
It has been found that breathing out engages our ventral vagal system, which is the part of our parasympathetic nervous system that slows our heart beat and relaxes us. Deep breathing stimulates your blood flow and can help bring more oxygen to your joints and muscles which can help you with your pain.
As we’ve said, breath is linked to the autonomic nervous system, and practicing breathing every day activates the parasympathetic nervous system.
Deep breathing techniques where you are breathing from your diaphragm rather than shallow breathing from your chest and meditation that focus on the breath and eases pain are the best to try.
If you use quick, short shallow breaths from the chest will mean your body is receiving less oxygen, whereas breathing from your diaphragm means your body is receiving more oxygen and you will begin to feel more relaxed.
These types of techniques ease tension in the muscles and allow even blood flow through to the extremities. The soothing power of the breath or heart beat lets one ignore thoughts of pain. (RSD Attorney)
Breathing Techniques and Exercises
In a research article by Busch, V et al (2012) where they studied the Deep and Slow Breathing techniques in relation to chronic pain perception they found that:
“… the way of breathing decisively influences autonomic and pain processing, thereby identifying DSB in concert with relaxation as the essential feature in the modulation of sympathetic arousal and pain perception.”
The exercises outlined in this deep breathing for CRPS and chronic pain blog can be varied at any time to suit you, where you are or what you’re doing.
When you do the breathing exercises if you feel dizzy or light-headed return your breathing to it’s normal rhythm. Why not add some gentle music, or light some softly scented candles, put out some fresh flowers or aromatherapy oils in an oil burner? By adding these sounds or smells it will all improve your breathing and help you to reduce the stress, tension and hopefully help your chronic pain or flare up.
There are many exercises that can be used but whichever you decide please remember that learning deep breathing exercises will take a little practice and getting used to as it may feel unnatural, but stay with it to try and remove your attention away from your pain.
It is known to be the most effective breathing technique for taking control over our nervous system and keeping the stress level low.
Benefits to Breathing Exercises
Deep Breathing can be of great benefit for a good many areas of your life including:
- decrease anxiety & depression
- Increase happiness & optimism
- Improves sleep
- Strengthens our ability to regulate emotions
- Improves trauma symptoms
- Reduce impulsivity, cravings & addictions
Deep Breathing Exercises
Deep Breathing Exercise 1
It is thought that practicing this deep breathing technique only 10 minutes per day can be helpful in reducing your blood pressure and heart rate.
- Sit straight on the floor and place your hands on your chest and abdomen one by one
- Start inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. You can feel how the hand kept on your abdomen rises along with the contraction of the abdominal muscles, while the other hand doesn’t move that much at all
- Try to breathe in as much air as possible so that your body is provided with lots of fresh oxygen and keep counting slowly as you breathe out
Breathing Exercise 2 – Rhythmic Breathing
First of all get into a room, close curtains and blinds, switch off the light, light your candles or oil burner, put on some gentle music and get into a relaxed position on a chair or sofa.
You can either focus your eyes on a space or picture or item in the room or ideally close your eyes
Try to take notice of how you are breathing at this moment, don’t alter the way you are breathing
Begin to slow down your breathing by breathing fairly deeply but not too deep and think about relaxing. Continue this for approximately 2 minutes or could do a set number of breaths if you prefer. On average for deep breathing they say between 9 and 12 breaths per minute
- To help you focus on your breathing count from 1 to 10 or back from 10 to 1 as you breathe in and out e.g. 1 – in, 2 – out, 3 – in, 4 – out or the other way round 10 – in, 9 – out, 8 – in…
Breathing Exercise 3
- Firstly of all get into a room, close curtains and blinds, switch off the light, light your candles or oil burner, put on some gentle music and get into a relaxed position on a chair or sofa. You can either focus your eyes on a space or picture or item in the room or ideally close your eyes
- Ensure your back is supported well
- Put 1 hand on your chest and your other hand on your stomach
- Try to take notice of how you are breathing at this moment, don’t alter the way you are breathing and focus. You are better having your eyes closed for this exercise
- You will probably be breathing fairly rapidly, so now let’s try to slow it down by taking a long slow breath in via your nose and at the same time push out your stomach
- Hold your breathing there for approximately 3 seconds
- Slowly breathe out through your mouth and allow your stomach to return to normal
- Repeat the long breath in pushing your stomach out and then slowly breathe out again allowing your stomach to return to it’s normal position
- Repeat the above until you feel your heart stop racing, your breathing has slowed down and you feel relaxed
Breathing Exercise 4
- First of all get into a room, close curtains and blinds, switch off the light, light your candles or oil burner, put on some gentle music and get into a relaxed position on a chair or sofa. You can either focus your eyes on a space or picture or item in the room or ideally close your eyes
- Breathe in deeply, squeeze shut your eyes and as you do tense your muscles in your hands, feet, legs or arms
- Keeping those muscles still tenses up hold you breath for a count of 2 or 3
- When you breathe out at the same time un-tense your muscles so let your muscles go loose
- You can repeat the breathing and tensing for as long as you are comfortable doing them not really longer than 10 minutes.
Breathing Exercise 5 – Controlled Deep Breathing Exercise
- First of all get into a room, close curtains and blinds, switch off the light and get into a relaxed position on a chair or sofa. You can either focus your eyes on a space or picture or item in the room or ideally close your eyes
- Then begin to slow down your breathing. Breathe deeply, using your chest. If you find your mind wandering or you are distracted, then think of a word, such as the word “Relax,” and think it in time with your breathing. You can use the syllable “re” as you breathe in and “lax” as you breathe out.
- Continue with this controlled deep breathing for about 2 to 3 minutes
- Once you feel your body and heart rate slowing down, you can then begin to use any imagery techniques you know. If not continue the deep controlled breathing for 5 minutes or until you feel calm and less stressed.
Bookspan, J. in her article ‘Do breathing exercises work?’ says:
” Don’t “overbreathe” (hyperventilate) by taking huge breaths in and out while at rest. That changes your body chemistry, which can make you dizzy or cause temporary limb tingling.”
In this self management blog you have hopefully learned how to use deep breathing exercises to help you cope with your CRPS or persistent pain.
However there are many more exercises and techniques for CRPS and persistent pain available on the internet but please contact your pain management team, your GP or pain specialist BEFORE trying anything new or different to your current medical regime for your specific condition.
Please do share our deep breathing exercises post on social media or on your blog. What are you favourite breathing techniques for CRPS and chronic pain?
Cited Research & Articles
- Bartur, G. et al. (2014) ‘Heart rate autonomic regulation system at rest and during paced breathing among patients with CRPS as compared to age-matched healthy controls,’ Pain Medicine. 2014. Vol 15 Issue 9, pp 1569-1574. Full Text Available from: < http://painmedicine.oxfordjournals.org/content/15/9/1569.long> doi: .doi.org/10.1111/pme.12449
- Beck, R.W. (2009) ‘Conservative Theory for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome Type I in a paediatric patient: a case study,‘ Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association. 2009, June. Vol 53(2) pp 95-101. Full Text Available from: <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2686030/>
- BELFAST TRUST ‘A Guide For Patients in Chronic Pain’ Available from: <http://www.belfasttrust.hscni.net/pdf/CHRONICPAININFORMAION.pdf>
- Bookspan, J. MEd. ‘Do Breathing Exercises work?’ Healthline. Available from: <http://www.healthline.com/health-blogs/fitness-fixer/do-breathing-exercises-work>
- Busch, V et al. (2012) ‘The effect of deep and slow breathing on pain perception, autonomic activity, and mood processing – an experimental study’ Pain Med. 2012 Feb Vol 13(2) pp 215-228. Available from: <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21939499> doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4637.2011.01243.x. Epub 2011 Sep 21
- Resolute Anesthesia and Pain Solutions (2014) ‘Deep Breathing Techniques for pain management’ Available from: <http://www.resolutemd.com/pain-treatment/deep-breathing-techniques-for-pain-management/>
- RSD Attorney (2013) ‘Coping with RSD Symptoms,’ RSD Attorney website. Available from: <http://rsdattorney.com/living-with-rsd/coping-with-rsd-symptoms/>
Last Updated: 03/01/2021