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Distraction

Distraction is a way to relieve pain by focusing the mind on something other than pain. With distraction, a person’s mind is busy paying attention to something other than pain, which can make pain more tolerable.

People can distract themselves with activities such as:

  • Watching TV or listening to music.
  • Reading a book.
  • Talking with a friend.
  • Going to a movie.
  • Doing puzzles, crafts, or hobbies.
  • Singing or praying.
  • Simply taking slow breaths.

Distraction can be helpful for dealing with pain at any level. It can be used alone for pain that is mild or with strong medicines for severe pain. It can help while a person is waiting for medicine to start working.

Some people may not find that distraction is helpful. If it leaves them feeling tired, irritable, or in more pain, they should find another way to deal with pain.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerMichael Seth Rabin, MD - Medical Oncology
Last RevisedOctober 28, 2011

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 28, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.