Chronic pain is pain that persists after injured tissue has healed. People suffering from chronic pain experience more than just physical symptoms, they also suffer emotionally and spiritually. Some of the physical issues can include: muscle tension, decreased movement, loss of strength, fatigue, increased sensitivity, changes in breathing (becomes faster, shorter & more shallow) and sleep disruption. Pain can interfere with ones ability to lead the same lifestyle they had before the injury and even prevent them from doing everyday tasks. This can lead to feelings of helplessness, isolation, frustration, fear & negativity. These thoughts and feelings can create emotional problems such as anxiety, depression and grief. Because pain is such a complex human experience and affects all aspects of ones well being (physical, emotional and spiritual) it needs to be treated with all those things in mind.
According to pain science the reason for chronic pain is one has developed a cranky nervous system and in order to eliminate, or at the very least reduce the suffering from chronic pain, the nervous system has to be soothed and shown that movement is safe to do because movement is one of the keys to a healthy mind & body and reduction of pain. The nervous system can be calmed down by showing it that there is no longer a threat and the pain signal is not necessary anymore. Pain can be lessened by reducing some of the physical symptoms that result from chronic pain and which tend to magnify the intensity of the pain. Although this does not happen overnight patience and perseverance pay off and pain can be reduced. The best way of dealing with pain is to treat it holistically and consider the whole person, not just the physical body. This is where yoga can come in to play as a viable, effective way to recovery and pain reduction.
Yoga is about uniting body, mind & spirit and to incorporate it into a daily practice and healing modality all aspects of the individual are considered. Many scientific studies have demonstrated how beneficial yoga can be for many of the symptoms resulting from chronic pain. The following are just a few conditions that yoga can help with: anxiety, back pain, depression, fatigue, fibromyalgia, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, high blood pressure, insomnia, migraines, neck pain & many post-operative recoveries. These all contribute to a reduction in chronic pain. (this is just a few of the benefits from Timothy McCall, MD list).
Yoga has an entire toolbox with which to draw from in order to address these issues and to help each person along their path to pain reduction. Asana, pranayama, meditation, mantra and mudras are some of the tools used in yoga.