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Tai Chi for Arthritis Relief

Gentle movements of the ancient Chinese exercise tai chi are one of many alternatives to help elderly people find pain relief.

More Alternatives for Arthritis Pain continued...

Biofeedback: Biofeedback is being taught today by physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, and many types of therapists. You learn several types of relaxation techniques and by attaching sensitive monitors to your body you can see immediately how your body is reacting to your efforts to relax, lower your blood pressure, diminish your pulse rate, change your temperature, or relax your muscles. Biofeedback reinforces your efforts to control your involuntary reflexes. The monitors let you know if your attempts to "tell your body" what to do are working. Eventually people are able to control these bodily processes without the use of the machine. By reducing stress and relaxing tight muscles you may reduce the level of pain and the need for medications.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS): This involves the use of electrical stimulation of the nerves to block the pain signals to the brain. It is performed by a professional and is usually done after other methods have been tried and failed. It seems to work best when the pain is in a specific area, such as the lower back. Electrodes are placed on the skin with some gel in the area to be treated. The electrical current is low level and produces a slight, tingling sensation. 

Visualization: Visualization has been shown to eliminate or reduce pain. Hypnotherapists use it to help patients come up with images that help pain become more tolerable or detract attention away from it. Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and imagine that you are in a place that is particularly restful. Bringing up this image at times of stress can be soothing and refreshing.

Meditation: Like visualization, this method can bring about relaxation and reduction of stress. It can slow the heart rate and breathing, thereby reducing stress. Those who practice meditation regularly are physiologically younger than their chronological age and report decreased anxiety, depression, and tension, and increased concentration and resilience.

Deep Breathing: Deep breathing is an effective way to relax. Try to find a time when you will not be disturbed. Find a comfortable, quiet place with as few distractions as possible. Lie down, letting your body be as limp as possible, and close your eyes. Begin breathing very deeply, slowly, and rhythmically. Clear your mind of all your problems and distractions. You can concentrate on a word, any word that will help you relax. Pretend that you are inhaling all the positive energy around you, then exhale all the negative. Try it for five or 10 minutes at first and work up to20 or 30 minutes.

Positive Imagery: This is a variation of deep breathing. The basic idea is to put yourself in a quiet place with minimal disturbances, close your eyes, relax, and breathe deeply several times. Then imagine that you are in a place where you are happy and relaxed; it might be the beach, the mountains, a cabin in a storm, a boat in calm waters, or whatever place makes you happy. In your mind look carefully at the entire scene. Imagine the smells, the temperature, the sounds, anything you can observe about this happy place. It might mean going back in time to a point in your life when you felt safe and happy. Positive imagery helps you to relax, subdue tensions, and lessen pain.

Self-Hypnosis: This is a way to put yourself into a state of deep relaxation. There are audiotapes available in most bookstores to help you with most of these types of deep relaxation, but a therapist can also be very helpful in teaching the technique.

Reviewed on December 22, 2011

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