How Integrating Psychotherapy Improves Chronic Pain Management

How Integrating Psychotherapy Improves Chronic Pain Management

Chronic pain is a truly debilitating and life changing condition for many sufferers. By definition, it is a persistent state of agony that fluctuates in intensity. Regardless of the factors that are causing it, all patients experience a severe reduction in the quality of their lives. In some cases, the pain may be determined by mental factors, while in others trauma has played an import role.

The consequences are varied, and almost universally negative. Routine, mindless tasks are somewhat unaffected due to their simple and repetitive nature. However, any task that requires concentration will be inhibited by the enhanced state of discomfort, leading to a failed social life and missed career opportunities. Sleep patterns will be disturbed, adding exhaustion to the list of unfortunate consequences.

Misconceptions and Proper Treatment

When it is compared to other areas of study such as math or physics, psychology is a fledging science.

Improvements can only be researched through experimentation, and even then, the results are disputable.

Human psychology and thought patterns are notoriously unpredictable, because of the complex nature of the subjects themselves. It is far easier to study primal forces, due to their objective and constant manifestation.

The human nervous system is irrevocably complex, consisting of tens of billions of neurons, and each person carries a distinct configuration.

In addition, personal experience, genetic heritage, nutrition and social factors all contribute to the formation of an individual identity. Treating subjective problems with objective methods is vague at best. Psychology has no easy answers, no straightforward equations.

Collaborative Efforts When Dealing With Pain

The most harmful approach, is the simple one. Focusing on just psychotherapy, or drugs will produce inadequate results. Collaborative efforts between physical therapists, and psychotherapists have shown consistent positive improvement.

If used in isolation, no single approach will be able to alleviate the issue.

In the past, pain treatment was seen as a distinct medical problem. However, drugs provide only temporary relief, and fail to treat the mental trauma associated with prolonged periods of unrelenting pain.

Solutions and Implementation

Nociceptive or visceral pain has a serious physical cause. Sometimes, even when the stress factor is eliminated, the pain may linger due to the mental turmoil. In other cases, the source is no longer an issue, but the tissular damage remains. In both situations, it is obvious that standard pharmaceutical relief will no longer be dependable.

The most obvious case of psychologically induced psychical agony, is when patients deal with the “phantom limb” syndrome. Amputation survivors often report chronic pain in the limb that they have lost. Their brain is not aware that their limb is missing, and it is still experiencing the traumatic moment that determined its removal. This condition irrefutably proves the duality of chemical experience and its cortical and psychological projection.

Talking Works

Chronic pain has become a very common issue, especially in developed countries. Despite the subjective nature of each case, there are standard procedures that may accommodate and comfort survivors. Many patients experience better results from psychotherapy, which often provides more relief than most medical procedures.

Many times when we are dealing with something stressful that is impacting our quality of life, support can lend a helping hand, even, if it’s just to cry or scream and know someone is listening.

Whether it is form simply venting frustrations, anger, depression and all the feelings that come from living with pain, talking does work, and it does help.

Psychologists and therapists are also experts in coping skills and teaching healthy ways to deal with anything, and pain is no exception. There is actually a pain specialty where therapists specialize in helping people cope with pain.

Support groups may also speed up the healing process, and provide a healthy environment of like-minded people. For those that mobility issues there are also many online alternatives that may fulfill the same function.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, an increasing number of scientists are advocating for the integration of psychotherapy into standard chronic pain treatment procedure.

The results are almost universally positive, and the methods used do not result in addiction or further damage.
Comfort aside, it may also stem the tide of prescription drug addiction, which has become quite prolific. Just as the human body is the result of a plethora of forces and influences, so too must specialists from multiple disciplines work together, in combating its most complex ailments.

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