Simple Ideas for Control


In the sections that follow, I will be referring to Suzanne, Mike, Sarah and Ashley. They are all characters, like you, who live every day in pain.

You can read about their struggles and triumphs in Book One of Unbelievable Pain Control. This book is based on a true story. Here, these four characters learn how one amazing person was able to demonstrate unbelievable pain control. This incredible person underwent major surgery without anesthesia and without any pain medication after her surgery. (In Book Two, you can meet the real person who was able to accomplish such incredible pain control – control over pain during major abdominal surgery and in several additional dental surgeries.)

Below are some of the things Suzanne, Mike, Sarah and Ashley learned from this amazing person. I have also tried to explain some central ideas about chronic pain and its’ impact on people’s lives. I sincerely hope this information can help you and your family.

Why Fighting Can Feel Like The Only Way

There is no doubt that pain makes you suffer and urges you to fight back. It can truly feel like you have no choice but to react through battle. But, how could you possibly win a war against yourself, against your injured body?

Sarah wasn’t the only one caught in this trap. For a long time, Mike tried to push himself at the gym as a way to recover from his shoulder injury. He could not accept the limitations that this injury had caused. His experiences, in the past, had taught him that exercise and strengthening often helped with his sports injuries. When this approach did not solve his chronic shoulder pain, though, his first attempts were to push even harder and fight back with a fury. Day after day, he would try to increase the number of repetitions for each of his exercises at the gym and increase the weights he was using. He became a desperate man.

It took Mike quite a while to realize that his shoulder was not only becoming more painful, with repeated flare-ups, but was actually getting weaker. Mike was finally forced to give up these desperate attempts. Exercise is still important. Mike has learned, now, that it has to be done in a reasonable and balanced way – as a part of his life, not as a daily battle.

Fighting may feel like the only way, but its not. Planned, patient and well-thought-out approaches are what really work.

Pain Control Is Not
Black Or White

Imagine trying to drive your car if you only had two options – full brake or full gas? You wouldn’t get very far. You certainly would have little or no real control over the car.

Pain control works in a similar way. It is not something that is black or white, full on or full off. It is in the gray areas, the details, where real control happens.

Sometimes taking one-half or one-quarter of a pain pill works better than taking a whole pill. Sometimes a 20-minute break works better than pushing until you can’t go any further and then needing a full sleep. It takes a little calmness and composure to think this way. This was a tough idea to get through Mike’s head, but one that really paid-off once it did.

Avoidance Does Not Bring Control

Awareness does.

In fact, this was the central message behind the story of her surgery. Her success at pain control was unbelievable. She didn’t try to avoid the pain from surgery, she became more aware of it. She paid attention to the details of how she felt, what was going on in her body and what the surgeon was doing to her. Fighting the pain, or trying to push it away, would only have made the pain stronger and harder to manage. It would also have weakened her.

Without awareness of your pain, its’ patterns and flare-ups, you will have little chance of learning ways to control it. Listening to your body, paying attention to its ups and downs and working with it, really pays off in the long run. Besides, it is tough to run away from your own body; practically impossible I would say. Paying more attention allows you to be kinder and gentler to your injured body, which really does need your help.

Tracking Down the Triggers

To obtain lasting relief, you need to find ways to reduce all the things that can aggravate your pain – or at least as many of them as possible. This means tracking down the triggers that can set off pain flare-ups and knock you back.

Suzanne, Mike, Sarah, and Ashley learned about many of the common triggers in their hospital program. Lack of sleep, over-activity, and intense stress are the big ones experienced by almost all people with long-term pain. They knew these triggers well.

Ashley also had her own individual triggers. She was frightened of letting down her husband and parents. When she couldn’t do as much around her home, she became worried that this would upset her husband. Sometimes her home was a mess, especially after a big flare-up would put her to bed for two to three days. Sometimes she was grouchy and wanted to be alone. What kind of wife was she being then? Ashley spent many hours talking with her husband about her fears and stresses. This really helped. Over time, she learned to understand and be more realistic about her worries. Talking didn’t take them all away, but they became a lot less intense now. Ashley’s husband also helped her to pinpoint some of the other stresses that would trigger increased pain. Having a compassionate observer living with you each day can really help. Having a real partner is a blessing.


This article may be printed/distributed freely as long as the entire article and the following bio are included.

Dr. Michael MacDonald is the author of Unbelievable Pain Control: How to Heal and Recover from Chronic Pain and Fibromyalgia and a detailed website about pain that can be found at


©2010 Dr. Michael R. MacDonald. All Rights Reserved