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Other Treatments for Pain

People with CFS and FM also use other approaches to reducing their pain, including the following.

Treating Fatigue and Poor Sleep

Pain, fatigue and poor sleep are tightly connected. When we feel tired, we experience pain more intensely, thus reducing fatigue lessens pain. Similarly, poor sleep intensifies pain, so improving sleep can help control pain. Of the three symptoms, poor sleep is often the one addressed first.
Heat, Cold and Massage

Heat, cold and massage can be used for temporary relief of pain. Heat is best utilized for reducing the pain that results from muscle tension and inactivity. The warmth increases blood flow and thereby produces some relaxation, reducing pain and easing stiff joints and sore muscles. 

For localized pain, heating pads or hot packs are used frequently. For overall relief, people often use warm baths, soaks in a hot tub or lying on an electric mattress pad.

Cold treatments decrease inflammation by reducing blood flow to an area. They also may numb the areas that are sending pain signals. You might use gel packs, ice packs or bags of frozen vegetables. With both heat and cold, you should not use the treatment for more than 15 or 20 minutes at a time.
Massage of painful areas can also provide temporary relief from pain. Like heat, massage increases blood flow and can also relieve spasms. You can consider three different forms of massage: self-massage using your hands, massage using a handheld device, and professional massage. If you use a massage therapist, ask her to be cautious and to check frequently on your pain sensitivity.

Immersing yourself in pleasant thoughts and activities can lessen pain by providing distraction. Imagery can be especially helpful, as you visualize a pleasant scene, involving as many senses as possible. 

If you want to transport yourself to the beach, see the light shimmering on the water, feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, hear the waves crashing and smell the mustard from the hotdogs. (For step-by-step instructions, see the section on imagery in the article Stress Reduction: Five Practical Techniques.)

Engaging in activities that bring pleasure also provide distraction from pain. Examples include reading a book, watching a movie, having a good conversation, taking a bath, listening to or playing music and spending time in nature. 

Problem Solving

You can gain some control over pain by identifying the situations that trigger or intensify pain, and then taking steps to change them.

For example, you might find that you are not able to keep up with household chores as you used to. Using problem solving, you brainstorm a variety of solutions, such as spreading chores out over several days, taking rest breaks during chores, and getting help from others. You then try a solution to see whether it works, evaluate, and try again.
Changing Self-Talk

Thoughts can have a dramatic effect on mood and, in turn, on the perception of pain. Negative thoughts can start a vicious cycle. An increase in symptoms may trigger negative thoughts like "I'll never get better" or "It's hopeless." 

Such thoughts can create anxiery, sadness, anger and a sense of helplessness. These reactions intensify pain and may trigger another round of negative thoughts and more muscle tension.
This cycle can be reversed. It’s possible to learn to recognize and to change habitual thoughts to make them more positive and more realistic. This well-researched approach, called Cognitive Therapy, can be found in books like Feeling Good by David Burns and Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman. 

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