Chronic pain is pain that doesn’t go away. Unlike acute pain, that comes on suddenly and can usually be traced directly to a cause, chronic pain lingers and it isn’t easy to tell what is causing it. That is the situation that millions of chronic pain sufferers have been in: there’s no reason as to why they have persistent pain.
In actuality, chronic pain in itself can be considered a disease or illness. Most times, pain is a symptom of another illness or problem. If pain becomes persistent, though, it isn’t just a sign of a problem, it is the issue.
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What can you do about chronic pain?
One typically accepted definition of chronic pain is pain that still remains, even when the related injury or disease has been healed. It’s pain that persists 6 months or longer after the associated injury or disease has been managed. Chronic pain not only affects the body physically, it can also affect the mind.
Psychologists and Chronic Pain
Being referred to a psychologist as part of the chronic pain treatment plan does not necessarily mean your doctor thinks that your pain is only mental. If your doctor refers you it usually means that they are well-aware of the effects pain can have on the mind. It means that the healthcare professional is currently taking a multi-disciplinary strategy to your pain, one which may comprise of psychology, physical therapy, and medications, for example. Since chronic pain is a condition that is multi-faceted, it needs a multi-faceted therapy plan.
A Psychologist’s Role
Chronic pain does involve an emotional component. Back in 1979, the International Association for the Study of Pain redefined pain. They said that it’s a “sensory and emotional experience. ” A translation: pain has physical and emotional sides, and it exists even if there is no identifiable cause. In other words, the pain simply exists because the individual feels (or thinks he or she feels) it. Persistent pain can have a psychological toll on an individual’s life. The following list of ideas aren’t atypical for a chronic pain patient to have when dealing with the painful symptoms.
- I can not work since I am in so much pain, so I am worthless for my loved ones.
- I do not even feel like myself anymore since my whole life revolves round this annoyance.
- I’m so lonely and isolated because no one understands my pain.
- I’m whining too much about my annoyance, I’m such a weakling! I must just put on a happy face.
- I can’t even do the simplest tasks anymore. I’m a failure.
With thoughts such as that dominating your mind, it can be difficult to fully deal with your pain. The psychological aspect can still make you feel trapped with the pain, although you might be taking actions to take care of the physical elements of your pain. A psychologist can help you deal with the psychological impact of chronic pain.
Utilizing behavioral treatment techniques, a psychologist can help you identify and change negative thoughts, ideas that can aggravate your pain. The psychologist can help you cope with anxiety, any depression, or other mood disorders related to chronic pain. What happens in sessions with your psychologist is left up to you, but it’s a time to be completely and totally truthful about how chronic pain is affecting your ideas, relationships, career, and self-esteem. The main goal is to help you live your life fully, restoring your overall health and wellness, mentally.
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By Dr. Alex Jimenez
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