Simple Ideas for Healing


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.

Your Body is Not Your Enemy

Although it may feel like it when you are really hurting, your injured body is not your enemy. Your body is hurt. It needs to be cared for and strengthened, not fought with, not hurt more.

Even at the gym, your goal is not to attack your body. You do not want to punish it, especially when it has already been weakened by injury or illness. You want to work with your body and your injuries. You want to nurture them. You want to strengthen the injured parts of your body and your body as a whole. This will help you to avoid serious flare-ups and to help keep your energy up. These are how the best results are obtained – you and your body working together.

After Ashley became pregnant, her family doctor sat her down and gave her a gentle but serious message. He did not want her over doing it. He did not want her suffering flare-up after flare-up. He knew that pain flare-ups would weaken her and make it more difficult for her body to care for the baby growing inside of her. This was a wake-up call for her. More than ever, it became important for her to work with her injuries, her body and her growing child. Her pain symptoms responded, with lower levels of pain and fewer flare-ups. She also gained some much needed energy.

Fear of Pain Can
Trigger More Pain

More Pain Sometimes fear and panic can send you spinning. These intense emotions can also trigger flare-ups of pain. This is true even when it is the pain itself that frightens you.

Pain comes in two basic varieties. One is a fear that the pain will never end. Individuals experience this fear mostly at times when their pain is very strong. When you look closely, you can see that this fear of pain is really a fear that the strong pain will never end. Usually this strong pain is due to a flare-up. It feels like it will never end – most intense pain does feel this way. Flare-ups will usually settle though, if they are allowed to.

This is very important to remember. Flare-ups are temporary. They do settle. Your pain will calm down – just like it has all the other times. A necessary part of controlling pain is to control your fear of pain.

Panic Flare-Ups

The second type of pain fear is more of a panic. It also occurs when pain levels are highest.

This type is a fear that the pain will keep escalating and escalating to the point where you lose all composure and control. Sometimes people in this situation also fear that they will go crazy, although this would be very rare. When this panic sets in, it can be a real crisis. The escalating pain triggers panic. The panic is very powerful, very stressful, and sets off a chain reaction, leading to even higher levels of pain. The pain and panic keep aggravating each other, making it hard for either one to settle down.

When this happens you need help. This help may come from someone close to you, or your doctor, to help reassure you that this is a temporary situation. You may need pain medication to stop the escalating cycle. For some people anti-anxiety medication can decrease the panic and help the flare-up to settle down. For others, the combined pain and panic flare-up can be so exhausting, they eventually collapse in bed. A much needed rest will usually help a lot toward settling down, both the pain and the panic. This situation provides a vivid illustration of how pain and stress work together, almost trying to top each other as they torture you.

You Can’t Get Better, Until You Stop
Getting Worse

What could be simpler than that? In theory, it is simple. In practice, it is often very difficult. Yet, your recovery depends on it.

In the first months after your injury, you try to fight back and not give in to the pain. As your pain continues past the time you thought it should have resolved, you may become frightened and push harder. But, if you push too hard, too often, your flare-ups will never have a chance to settle down. You will have more pain and you will become more limited. How can you get better under these conditions?

This is a message heard over and over again by Suzanne, Mike, Sarah, and Ashley in their chronic pain program. It took a while to sink in. One of their counselors compared their struggle to those of long-distance runners. If they push too hard, too often, they will use up all of their energy, get burned out, and never finish the race. To be a successful distance runner, one needs to learn when to slow down, when to speed up and, most importantly, how to keep going. What takes time to learn is how to minimize the pain flare-ups, that make it so hard to keep going, and to keep moving forward. Living with long-term pain requires, not only a marathon of endurance, but also a marathon of hope.


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