Pain is what we call the fifth vital sign and because pain is technically invisible it is often overlooked. Pain can be measured verbally and non verbally it can be noted as a grimace or a whimper, an increased pulse rate or a climbing blood pressure; however measured chronic pain is the pain that continues past the body’s ability to heal. It creates stress and affects the sufferer physiologically, psychologically and socially. Stress increases the exacerbation of the perception of pain and contributes to prolongation and acuity.
Traditionally we medicate for pain and we need to continue to utilize medications effectively in consultation with pain management to assist in the treatment of chronic pain. Unfortunately, medications can over time lose the effectiveness they once had in treating pain as the body becomes used to the medications, we move on to combinations of medications and treat side effects such as constipation and nausea. Advances in pain management and this specialty for physicians have made great strides and assisted in enhancing the lives of many who struggle with chronic pain.
New advances also turn to alternative therapies to manage pain. Hot stone massage, pet therapy, Reiki, acupuncture water therapy, and Art Therapy. Art therapists are trained in psychology, mental health counseling and in the visual arts. Art therapy provides relaxation, stress relief, increased socialization and improves motor skills. Pain demands the attention of the senses, art therapy modulates pain by diverting attention toward another sensory experience. Research has found that the act of producing art distracts and thus alleviates the perception of physical pain, mood improves and there is reported decrease in anxiety stress and depression.
Art therapists work with the client to build on sources of inspiration. The art often communicates to the care giver how the life of the chronic pain sufferer is isolated and chained or emotionally distressing. These feelings, as expressed in art serve to better help the care giver understand the psycho social impact of chronic pain and increase understanding and insight for both care givers and patients.
Remember that medication has a place and a need for the treatment of chronic pain but alternative therapy modalities can help to improve the perception and the constancy of chronic pain. So, be open try an alternate way, it may be art and it may be pet therapy or acupuncture but you will never know unless you try.