Burning Nights CRPS Support is a UK national charity dedicated to raising awareness of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
Breathing Exercises

Learn How To Use Deep Breathing Exercises For Your CRPS or Persistent Pain

2018-06-15

Learn How To Use Deep Breathing Exercises For Your CRPS or Persistent 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 blog 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 a good source of managing pain? The answer is that 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.

 

 

Breathing Exercises for CRPS and Chronic Pain

Breathing Exercises for CRPS and Chronic Pain

 

When you are in a state of frustration, stress, tension or pain your mind and body and 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. Deep breathing stimulates your blood flow and can help bring more oxygen to your joints and muscles which can help you with your pain.

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)

 

 

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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 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.

 

 

Breathing Exercises for CRPS | Breathing exercises for chronic pain

Breathing Exercises for CRPS | Breathing exercises for chronic pain

 

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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.

 

EXERCISE ONE – 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…

 

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EXERCISE TWO

  • 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

 

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EXERCISE THREE

  • 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.

 

EXERCISE FOUR – CONTROLLED DEEP BREATHING

  • 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 / RSD 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?

 

P.S. Why not take a look at our other blogs including our Quick Guide To Pacing For CRPS and Chronic Pain and 11 Coping Strategies For Your CRPS?

 

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Cited Research & Articles 

 

 

 Burning Nights CRPS Support is a registered charity. We are not doctors or specialists and therefore cannot make any diagnosis, provide treatment etc. You must speak to your doctor or healthcare professional about starting to do any exercises including breathing techniques. This help is not meant to replace your current treatment regime or medication. If in doubt please contact your doctor or pain specialist first. 

 

Last Updated: 15/06/2018

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About the Author
I'm a barrister, advocate & sufferer of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS). I am also a bilateral (double) above knee amputee due to aggressive symptoms of CRPS. However I want to help all those affected by this devastating condition which includes those living with CRPS, their loved ones, families, carers and friends. Please help spread awareness of this debilitating and life-changing condition - CRPS. We need your support!
  1. Zoe Masters Reply

    This is just a brilliant blog about deep breathing and the exercises that I can use to help me with my CRPS. I’m slowly going through each 1 of the series of alternative therapies of yours and I wanted to comment on this one. I found the exercises really easy to learn to fo and I’ve adapted them a little for myself. But another excellent resource thanks Birning Nights!
    Zoe

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