The past three years I’ve dealt with chronic pains from hypermobility and my doctor diagnosed that I have Tietze’s syndrome as well. I’m guessing I’ve had that for the past three years as well, but because I had so many different symptoms, they overlooked it. Add a permanent neck injury to that, an ankle bruised on three different places which might not go away and shoulders which really like to subluxate. I used pain killers, NSAIDs and analgesic gels. But none of them worked well enough. I recently started doing Tog Chöd, Tibetan sword fighting, and my teacher taught me an exercise to help me control the pain. Two days after doing it, the pain is gone.
The weather sucks for me right now. It’s cold and rainy. I didn’t sleep much during the weekend due to various of reasons and being outside a lot with this weather usually triggers the pain attacks of my Tietze. Tietze is an inflammation of the sternum. It causes general slightly burning pain and trouble breathing, but it can also cause the pain attacks that most people would compare to a heart attack. I know other people with Tietze who were taken to the hospital because they thought it was a heart attack. The biggest difference between such a pain attack and a heart attack, is that Tietze’s pain is very local, while a heart attack affects other parts of the body as well. I usually feel stabbing pains on the left side of my chest. Like someone stabs my heart with a dagger, multiple times. Until now nothing really worked to take away the pain caused by Tietze.
This exercise is something I would categorize with mindfulness. You need to know what your body feels and just let it be. It helps to see your body as a separate entity. You can’t let the thoughts in your mind influence what the body feels. Short meditation and grounding yourself helps with the exercise. If these kind of things aren’t your cup of tea, I suggest you look elsewhere for pain management.
I told my Tog Chöd teacher that my chest hurt and I wanted to take it easy during training and stop if it hurt too much. She told me to do the routine and look for the boundaries of pain. When does it start to hurt and during which exercise? So I did. I found the boundaries and tried to avoid the painful exercises. Then she told me to do it again, but to feel the pain when it came back and accept it. She said that when you try to avoid it or suppress it, it’ll come back worse. She described it like a hydra. Cut off one head, get back three.
Another pain stab came and I immediately closed my eyes. I focused on the pain and isolated it. I only needed to feel the pain, nothing else. It was a stabbing pain with a slightly burning feeling or radiation. I realized for the first time that the actual pain is very small, maybe only a few centimeters. I felt the pain as it really was. I opened myself to feel what it really was, in its full power, without trying to suppress it. It hurts of course, but after that it became better. I accepted the pain and told it that it had to go.
Treating the pain as a third person or an object is a very good way to put it away. The pain is gone, the cause isn’t. I still feel slight pressure on my chest and I know that won’t go away. Something in my body isn’t right. That won’t change. The pain will also be back. But what I experience is different. I feel great right now, knowing that I can control the pain that has rules my life for more than three years. I think I’ll be able to do more now that I can take back control.
I hope it will help people dealing with chronic pain when regular methods don’t work. Please share your experiences with me and others reading this :) When the doctors can’t help us, we have to help each other by sharing our experiences and knowledge.
1. Do a short meditation to clear your mind and reconnect with your body. Breath in through your nose and breathe out saying a soft “ha”.
2. Ground yourself. Stand with your feet apart and feel the soles of your feet connect to the ground. Make sure your body weight is completely centered, evenly balanced on your legs.
3. Feel every part of your body. Start from the feet and feel every bit of your body. How does it feel? Do you feel power, weakness, pain, burning, muscle aches, energy? Name every bit that you feel and tell yourself how it affects you. The power in your legs can give you good feeling, while muscle aches can make you feel tired.
4. Go back to painful places. Isolate the pain. Only feel that pain and forget about the rest. Take away any barrier that blocks the pain experience. Don’t suppress it or block the pain. Accept it for what it is.
Don’t try to feel all the pains at once. Every pain is different, so treat it differently as well.
5. Now you know where the pain is and how it feels. You’ve accepted it. Now tell the pain that you don’t have time for it. The pain will get less when you’ve given its own place.