Relaxation therapy definitely has a place in managing chronic pain. Muscle tension, anxiety, and stress can increase your level of pain and/or your ability to cope with pain. Relaxation therapy comes in many forms. Exercise for some people is a form of relaxation. Yoga, dance, Tai chi, and aerobic exercise (walking, biking) are just a few examples of exercise that seems to help reduce stress, fatigue, and depression.
Biofeedback is another tool used to help promote relaxation. This can be as simple as a handheld device (Thermistor TM) to measure temperature of your fingers or as complex as formal therapy with a physical therapist. Physiologic quieting (R) is a specific relaxation technique developed by a physical therapist that can be used at home very effectively. The patient uses an audio tape, Thermistor, and breathing exericses to lower the heart rate, blood pressure, and reduce muscular tension.
For anyone with chronic low back pain, a single approach to your discomfort may not be as effective as combining several methods at the same time. Psychologists suggest an approach called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Studies show that CBT in addition to other treatment methods for chronic back pain is quite successful.
With CBT, relaxation therapy is combined with positive self-talk, minimizing negative or self-destructive thoughts, and changing beliefs about pain. The main focus of CBT is to replace poor coping skills and maladaptive beliefs and emotions with healthier ones. This approach deals with the psychologic and social factors affecting chronic pain.
Other methods such as pain relievers, acupuncture, and chiropractic care help with the biologic side of pain. For best results, it's recommended that a program is used that addresses all the biologic, psychologic, and social aspects of chronic pain.