What is mindfulness for Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)? How can it help me with my chronic pain condition? This article will help to answer those questions and hopefully teach you how to practice mindfulness for your CRPS, so you can try to practice mindfulness meditation on a regular basis as an alternative, self-care pain management tool.
Mindfulness is a psychological process centred on being in the present moment and fully aware of your surroundings, including sight, sound, taste, and not over reacting to thoughts, feelings or sights. Mindfulness is paying full attention of yourself, noticing everything that is happening in your surroundings.
Mindfulness is considered to be a simple form of meditation. The dictionary definition of Mindfulness is:
It is the second part of the definition that really is involved in Mindfulness as an alternative therapy. An example of what this can mean for sufferers of persistent pain is:
The simplest way of explaining mindfulness is that you are here in the now and you are aware of yourself and what is going on around you. You need to think and be 'mindful' of you and your surroundings. Mindfulness means waking up to the smells, sights, sounds, and tastes of the now - i.e. in the present moment.
It is thought that pain comes in two different parts:
According to Juliet Adams, the Founder of Mindfulnet.org & Director at A Head for Work, there is the ABC of Mindfulness:
You will find two terms often associated with each other: meditation and mindfulness. Used together, they can be an effective way of coping and dealing with your persistent pain. Having Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), apart from being the most excruciating chronic pain condition, can make you feel totally isolated and alone.
As for how Mindfulness can work for patients living with CRPS, it can eventually help you cope easier with your persistent pain and feel less stress and distress. Intrusive thoughts, such as how your CRPS began or came about or the event that caused it, can not only influence your pain, but also have an impact on your quality of life. Understanding all the factors that relate to managing your CRPS can eventually help you (Lohnberg, J.A. & Altmaier, E.M. 2014).
A study with 30 CRPS sufferers looked at using acceptance-based coping methods and found that it could result in lower pain during the same day, increased activity the following day (Cho, S. et al. 2013). Read the study here.
Rosenzweig, S. et al. (2010) concluded that mindfulness-based stress reduction treatments did have a varied effect on persistent pain, as well as a better quality of life and psychological well being. By being more aware of yourself and of your surroundings in the present can not only help you understand yourself much better and also help you to enjoy the world around you.
Veehof, M.M. et al (2016) stated in their conclusions that: "…acceptance-and mindfulness-based interventions for chronic pain are, on the whole, moderately effective on a number of beneficial outcomes, especially in the long term."
When you first practice Mindfulness, prior to doing any exercises you should try and make sure you and your surroundings are prepared. Once you are confident in your Mindfulness exercises then you should be able to practice them wherever you are - at work, as a passenger in the car, bus or train.
This is a classic Mindfulness exercise that many courses will likely teach you. It takes around 20 minutes.
In this exercise, we will go from the top of the head downwards to the toes. If you prefer, you can go the other way; from the toes upwards to the top of the head. It all depends on what you feel comfortable with, similar to our Relaxation Techniques.
Mindfulness for CRPS and Chronic Pain can be a worthwhile pain management tool to help you with your thoughts, feelings and eventually help you cope with everyday life while having chronic pain or a chronic pain condition like CRPS. Please seek medical advice from your doctor before starting any new treatments, including counselling.
Hopefully, this article has helped you to understand how mindfulness can help you and your CRPS and chronic pain, as well as how mindfulness for CRPS and chronic pain works, and how it could help you in your every day life. Mindfulness is an important tool and should be used alongside your other treatments, not instead of.
Please be aware that, as with most treatments and tools, mindfulness doesn't always work for everyone and it is not a cure. Practicing mindfulness meditation can assist you in your self-care routine to help you manage and cope with your CRPS, persistent pain, mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety.
There are many website and resources for Minfulness for CRPS and persistent pain out there. Below are a few that are a good place to start, with good podcasts, books and resources.
Burning Nights CRPS Support has written a number of articles on living with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome and chronic illness. Here are some you may be interested in:
*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 before starting any new treatment. This help is not meant to replace your current treatment regime or medication. If in doubt please contact your doctor or pain specialist first. We are not responsible for any subsequent actions you may take.*
*Burning Nights CRPS Support is not responsible for any external websites.*
Last Updated: 13/07/2020