Can Fun Help Overcome Pain?


Can Fun Help Overcome Pain? by Lynn Webster, MD

Can good, old-fashioned fun help people overcome chronic pain?


It all depends what we mean by “fun.”

One person’s fun is another person’s work

For example, therapists have been recommending coloring books to their adult patients for years. The benefits of using crayons (and markers and colored pencils), the theory goes, extends beyond children to adults. While you use your creativity, and splash colors on the page with joyful abandon, you can’t focus on your troubles.

True, right? Well, some of the time, for some people, it’s true.

Coloring may work to reduce tension and provide a distraction for some people. But, for other people, our poor drawing skills due to arthritis or inability to even get our crayons into the narrow spaces that adult coloring books often features can have just the opposite effect. We can become agitated and irritated.

The same is true for Sudoku puzzles. Some people find the world of numbers to be a welcome playground for the mind. Other people think of anything related to numbers as an odious exercise in returning to the classroom, and that might only increase their pain.

That’s also true of crossword puzzles. Words are fun for some, and they represent frustration and unhappiness for others.

Stress augments pain

Is the process of coloring, or solving puzzles, relaxing or stressful? That would tell you if it could be a therapy for you. Any type of playful activity that you find to be fun can provide you with the distraction you need to find temporary relief for chronic pain.

The key is to find something that is relaxing

Music, mediation, movies, playing with pets or painting can be therapeutic, but some music or forms of mediation, movies or involvement with pets can increase stress for some people. Match therapy to the person, and your playful activity should be just as helpful in relieving your pain as taking an aspirin.



Purchase my book The Painful Truth: What Chronic Pain Is Really Like and Why It Matters to Each of Us (available on Amazon) or read a free excerpt here.the painful truth, lynn webster, md, chronic pain

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Copyright 2016, Lynn Webster, MD


  1. Tabatha on March 13, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    Good point! An individualized response is best.

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