Distraction Techniques for Pain

Distraction Techniques for Pain


Why would you need distraction techniques for pain?  What does that mean?  Do these techniques work?

I imagine you are reading this article because you are in pain.  You have my empathy.  I too have chronic pain.  Which is the main motivation for creating this website.  Each day I search for ways to manage my pain.  

So if you are in pain and searching for relief, read on.  Perhaps you will find some help here.  I certainly hope so.  

Distraction Techniques for Pain

What Is Distraction Technique?

Distraction itself is defined as diverting the attention from one focus to another.  Probably what comes to mind is distracted driving, which is dangerous and irresponsible.  Your mind is focused where it shouldn’t be focused in that case.

A distraction technique, when used to relieve pain, is an activity that you work at to redirect your mind off the pain.  

When you are in pain, the brain usually focuses on the pain.  (Now, pain in itself is really a good thing because it warns us something is wrong.  But chronic pain brings you down and impacts your life, sometimes forever.)

I’ve struggled with this condition for six years now.  I have good days and bad days.  I bet you can relate.

Using distraction techniques for pain trains the mind to focus on something other than the pain.  The result?  The pain doesn’t have the same focus and therefore influences us less.  The practice can lessen the pain sensation or even stop it for a time.

Some Techniques

Practicing these techniques should help you feel better, at least for a little bit.  Try different ones that sound good to you.  If one doesn’t work, try another.

  • Relaxation breathing or deep breathing techniques should help you feel better, at least for a little bit.  Try different ones that sound good to you.  If one doesn’t work, try another.  This technique is also helpful in lowering your heart rate and your anxiety.  There are many apps available to learn this technique.  I have also written an article about mindfulness which might be helpful here.  What Is Mindfulness Meditation and Can It Help Manage My Pain?
  • Reading in any format, including audio books.

    Distraction Techniques for Pain

  • Listening to music.  Certain music can even lift our spirits.  Or take us back to our younger days, with memories filling our thoughts.  These serve to cut off the suffering.
  • Working on a home project.  Find something that you enjoy doing.  My pain limits what I can do, but I can do something.  I’m just slower at it.  Which is okay.
  • Crafting.  I’m not much into this; used to be when I was younger.  I enjoyed cross-stitching.  Do people still do that?  Think of an easy craft you would enjoy.  The pleasure of creating along with the distraction should provide you with relief.
Distraction Techniques for Pain
  • Counting backwards or saying the alphabet backwards.  This is a quick activity that can give a few minutes of relief. I’m using it while I walk, which is usually a painful experience. 
  • Playing games or doing puzzles.  I have had reports from loved ones that doing puzzles during isolation helped them keep their sanity.  
  • Watching a movie or TV.  While I don’t recommend sitting in front of the tv for hours, I know it is helpful to relax while watching a favorite movie or tv show.  I especially recommend comedy.  There is some science that shows that laughter releases endorphins that are “feel good” hormones.  These are natural pain relievers!

Here is a user friendly website that I found that was very helpful.  It is presented by the Pain Management Network.  I used some of their resources for my list.

In my research I found another website developed by a woman who is a chronic pain sufferer.  Her website is beautiful and she has an article about distractions too.  It’s called 20 Ways to Distract Yourself From Pain.  

Creating this website and my other site (helpfulresourcesforseniors.com) has been a wonderful distraction for me.  I am learning about website building, about pain management, and resources for seniors.  These mind involvement activities make me completely forget my pain.

Who Can Use Them?


I don’t usually make such a broad inclusive statement, but these techniques are easy to do and have no side effects.  

These techniques are also good for other negative thoughts and feelings.  They can help with anxiety and depression for example.  

The only caveat is you have to practice them.  Some may take a little more concentration than others, but in this case that is a good thing.  The more you engage your brain, the better. 

Here’s a video that takes distraction to another level!  Perhaps this technique will be commonplace in the future!

Do These Techniques Work?

From my experience, I would say yes.  I find I can use distraction when I am working on my website and I hardly realize I have pain.  I am still learning how to do this technique when I am walking, as the pain seems to be worse when I am active.

I like to find science that backs up my claims.  So here are some articles you can investigate if you want supporting data for this practice.  

In a post from the National Institutes of Health, I found a study that had been done to distract people from getting a IV needle inserted in their vein.  The conclusion was that the patients reported very little pain when practicing distraction.  Read the article here.  

In an article written in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, the conclusion is that “distraction is a promising intervention for the management of procedural pain in pediatric oncology patients, although available evidence is limited.”  So there is a study that shows positive results.  Click here to see the full article.  

Distraction Techniques for Pain

The American Society of Anesthesiologists even wrote about this concept.  They correlated their study with people who are defined as highly catastrophizing about their pain.  Apparently the higher you perceive your pain to be, the more this method works.  See their article here.  

So there is science behind this.  I feel more information needs to be publicized.  If this is a method that is helpful to those of us in pain, and it has no side effects, then why don’t we know more?  That question requires further investigation too.  

Final Thoughts

I wrote an article that has a different approach, with more techniques to try out.  It’s called Relaxation Techniques for Pain.  Maybe one of those practices might help you.  

This article doesn’t begin to cover all the information available.  I think I need to write a follow up article.  If you have information you want researched, or questions about this topic, please leave a comment.  

Also, in case you are wondering how to build a website, as I am doing here, then you can check out the platform I use called Wealthy Affiliate.  I have learned so much as I work toward a professional looking website.  

Comments Please!

Please leave a comment now that you have read this article.  I especially desire feedback on if these ideas helped you or if you have practiced this technique, and what your results were.  And if you want to know more about another topic on pain management, let me know.  I am always researching new ideas.


I’m not a medical professional, merely a fellow pain sufferer.  Although the techniques in this post shouldn’t have any negative effects, I hope you have checked with your healthcare provider to make sure you are doing all you can do to manage your pain, and to get the care you need.  

Also, I sometimes use articles to feature a product that I recommend.  If I link to the product, I would receive a small commission if it is purchased.  I do not have any such affiliate links in this post.

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2 thoughts on “Distraction Techniques for Pain”

  1. I like that distraction is both “work” and a “technique.” It means that it’s both knowable and also something I can work at and get better at.

    So when I’m in pain, there are things that I can do to lessen that pain by “re-directing my mind,” as you so well put it.

    Thanks for the advice!

    • Thank you for your comment. I hope you can find pain relief with some distraction techniques. And yes, work, like here at Wealthy Affiliate, does take our minds off our pain. For that I am very thankful,


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