Question: What Is Relaxation Therapy And When Is It Used To Relieve Pain?
Answer: Relaxation therapy is learning the different ways of how to reduce the body's stress response. The stress response might be in terms of tight muscles that clench up because of stress. The stress response can be in terms of what's called your autonomic nervous system, and that's -- for example -- the part of your nervous system that gets active in the fight-or-flight response -- your heart rate goes up, your palms get sweaty, your breathing goes faster -- and that changes your blood vessel contraction, dilatation, so that by learning how to develop a relaxation response, in fact, you turn off and learn how to get control over some of this stress, bodily stress responses that we know increase the volume of pain signaling and makes pain worse. One example would be breathing -- learning some breathing strategies that will actually calm your body. Another might be learning how to relax your muscles. So there are a whole variety of ways that can help you quiet down the stress response and help your pain get much better, and help you function better.