Relaxation methods for sickle cell pain: How relaxation works

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Learn about how relaxation can help you reduce stress, manage pain and be better able to take part in daily activities.

Key points

  • Relaxation helps relax tightened blood vessels and improve blood flow around the body.
  • Relaxation also helps you feel calmer if you are nervous, sad or overwhelmed.
  • When you are in pain, you can ease it with a number of relaxation methods, such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation with tension, relaxation with imagery and even mini-relaxation.

Our bodies are designed to move. In fact, movement is what keeps our joints, muscles and bones flexible and strong.

However, sickle cell pain can cause you to sit, stand or move in uncomfortable ways. You may also spend a lot of time sitting or lying down when you are in pain. All of this sitting, lying down and holding the body in different positions can lead to increased muscle tension, greater muscle weakness and more pain.

The good news is that relaxation methods can help you manage pain by helping to relax tightened blood vessels and increasing blood flow. As a result, you are better able to take part in daily activities. Relaxation can also help you manage pain by reducing stress, as it helps you feel calmer when you are upset, nervous or worried.

Tightened muscles cause blood vessels to narrow, increasing pain; relaxed muscles allow blood vessels to expand, reducing pain

Research shows that relaxation can work better than medication to reduce some types of pain. Even better, relaxation methods are easy to learn!

Over the next few pages, you'll learn about:

Last updated: November 22nd 2023