The Complete Guide to Managing Chronic Pain

Mind-Body Medicine

This might sound like a strange term if you haven’t come across it before. Mind-body medicine is the art and science of regulating thoughts and feelings in order to improve mental and physical well-being.

As Hippocrates once wrote, “The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well.’ This is mind-body medicine in a nutshell.”

Mind-body practices not only reduce pain, but are especially effective at improving depression, anxiety, and stress associated with chronic conditions.

Mindfulness meditation

“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally,” according to Jon Kabat-Zinn, a pioneer of mindfulness in medicine.

The Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program created by Jon Kabat-Zinn to teach mindfulness to patients has demonstrated remarkable benefits for reducing chronic pain as well as anxiety and depression in fibromyalgia.

You can find an MBSR program in your community, or there is a free version online here.

Alternatively, you can learn meditation using a free app on your phone. Two of my favorites include the Insight Timer and The Meaning of Life Experiment. You can practice mindfulness through meditation, body scans, mindful eating, or mindful movements like yoga or Tai Chi.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Studies have found that participating in CBT can help reduce pain, depressive thoughts, and improve quality of life for people with chronic pain. (Holmes et al.) One of the core parts of the program is learning to identify negative thinking traps or ‘cognitive distortions.’


These are thoughts that “sound rational and accurate, but really only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves”

CBT programs also focus on helpful behavior changes like learning deep relaxation as well as pacing activities.

The Bottom Line…

While there are many different types of chronic pain management techniques, you may find that some may work for you while the others listed above don’t – and that’s okay too!

Living with chronic pain isn’t easy, some days will be good and others not so good, but we must not give up and continue to fight. Keep searching for chronic pain management strategies – whether it’s from other chronic pain warriors or doing research. You will find a chronic pain management technique that will work for you!


APTA (Manage Chronic Pain With the Help of a Physical Therapist)

CTV (Medical Marijuana Seems to Safely Help Chronic Pain Patients: Study)

Fontaine, K. (Arthritis Research & Therapy: Effects of Lifestyle Physical Activity on Perceived Symptoms and Physical Function in Adults With Fibromyalgia: Results of a Randomized Trial)

Grossman, P. (Psychology and Psychosomatics: Mindfulness Training as an Intervention for Fibromyalgia)

Health (How to Describe Your Pain to Doctors)

Healthline (Diving In: Water Exercises for Arthritis Relief)

Holmes, A. (MJA: Depression and Chronic Pain)

Lorig, K. (Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions)

Mayo Clinic (Antidepressants: Another Weapon Against Chronic Pain)

Mayo Clinic (Anti-seizure Medications: Relief from Nerve Pain)

Medical News Today (Yoga, Acupuncture Effective for Chronic Pain Management)

NCCIH (Acupuncture: In-Depth)

NCCIH (Chronic Pain: In Depth)

Prevention (The Fibro Fix You’ve Never Tried)

Psych Central (Common Cognitive Distortions)

UMM (Mind-body Medicine)

WebMD (Information about NSAIDs)

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Katarina ZulakKatarina Zulak

Katarina Zulak is an ePatient blogger and health writer. Six years ago she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. On her blog, she writes about learning to be skillfully well, even when living with a chronic condition. Katarina lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and their cat Lily.

Oct 29, 2018
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