Chronic neck pain may drive you to blaspheme on occasion but can prayer and other spiritual approaches actually help relieve chronic pain? Some pain management specialists who embrace an integrative approach do connect spirituality and faith with positive outcomes for pain relief, but how does it work in practice?
Any holistic approach to pain relief will look not only at the cause of the pain, pharmaceutical and physical therapies, but also at attitudes to symptoms and subjective experience. This includes things such as stress management, relaxation techniques, motivation and capacity for lifestyle and dietary changes that can help the condition, and a range of other factors including family and social support.
How Faith Can Play A Role in Chronic Pain Management
Acute neck pain may have a simple short-lived trigger that is easily addressed and removed for fast and effective pain relief but chronic pain is often more complex, involving both mind and body so it is easier perhaps to see how a person’s faith and spirituality can become part of ongoing chronic pain management. Sources of positivity can include spending time with family and friends, with your dog, cat, or other animal companions, being out in nature, or even allocating time to read, take a relaxing bath, or have a massage. Faith can be part of that positivity.
A person’s spirituality and faith can offer a source of strength and courage, wisdom, hope, and motivation to make healthy choices and make the best of a situation. Faith can also provide a certain level of attachment to and detachment from the body. By being able to bear witness to the symptoms of your physical form you may be better able to identify the site of pain and appreciate that it is localised and not all-encompassing. As such, spirituality may help maintain a sense of self as an individual who is more than simply a person in chronic pain.
Faith and Spirituality to Relieve Neck Pain
One way of putting this into practice is to work on observing the sensation of pain and then focusing on another positive or neutral feeling in a different part of the body. If your neck is painful then focus on the pain before turning your attention to how your hands are not in pain, or how there is a pleasurable sensation of fullness in your stomach after a meal, or a comforting warmth in your toes from a new pair of socks.
Spirituality can, in a sense, tap into the gate control theory of pain management whereby sensory signals other than pain can override painful stimuli and actually reduce the perception of pain. This may also help if you focus on the area that is in pain but move attention away from the pain itself to a sensation on the skin such as light touch, warmth from a hot compress or a pleasant cooling sensation from a cold compress.
Praying Neck Pain Away
Faith may also play a role in neck pain management by offering a sense of guidance through prayer. While orthodox medicine doesn’t prescribe a Sunday service to relieve neck pain it may use cognitive behavioural therapy or other psychological intervention to interrupt negative thought patterns and aid motivation to live life to its fullest.
The same could be said of prayer as this action may allow a person of faith to concentrate on what they desire from their life, what is realistically preventing them from enjoying life fully, and actually forming clear statements of what needs to change for things to get better.
Prayer can be a form of goal-setting and visualisation that then spurs a person to work towards those goals themselves. Of course, this only works if the person praying is not passive and does not simply expect their pain to be lifted for them. Instead, it is the skills of focusing, visualising, and being offered support by a faith community that can help a person harness their spirituality for neck pain relief.