If you’re in pain, it’s because something’s wrong with your body. Perhaps you’re suffering from a cold or sprained ankle. After healing has occurred, the discomfort typically disappears. However, in rare cases, it can linger for a considerable amount of time. That said, medical professionals may diagnose it as chronic pain when discomfort persists for more than three months.
Over 50 million people in the United States suffer from chronic pain. Many seek solace in medicines. On the other hand, you might not be aware that therapy might be beneficial as well.
That said, read on if you’ve been experiencing persistent pain. Here, we break down the benefits of therapy for managing chronic pain and the most valuable approaches that may help you in the long run.
What Role Does Therapy Play in Treating Chronic Pain?
According to Dr. Elena Welsh, a licensed clinical psychologist in Los Angeles, California, “therapy can help people avoid or reduce thought processes that typically make their pain worse,” including “focusing on how bad their pain is” (pain catastrophizing) and “focusing on their fears around their pain getting worse” (fear of pain).
She elaborates by saying, “Consider counseling as part of your overall pain management treatment plan, which will likely still include some type of medical monitoring and/or intervention.” But does it mean that your chronic pain is all in your head if you’re going to therapy?
Welsh emphatically disagrees. Illnesses that cause constant discomfort are not made up. The way we think and act can make things better or worse.
In any case, dealing with chronic pain can be emotionally taxing. That’s because there’s more going on than meets the eye when it comes to the mind and body when dealing with chronic pain. There are also mental and emotional dimensions. Problems with one’s mental health, such as anxiety and depression, may be exacerbated by living with chronic pain.
The good news is that therapy can boost mental health and aid pain management for those suffering from chronic conditions. According to Welsh, counseling can assist those who are depressed in acquiring new coping mechanisms for dealing with chronic pain.
You and your therapist may decide to focus on finding humorous ways to divert your attention away from your suffering. “Therapy can help teach strategies like activity pacing to help someone stay as active as they can be, despite their pain,” adds Welsh.
In cases of chronic pain, what treatment options are usually suggested? There are various methods available for treating it. Here are some notable ones that have shown promise in helping those with chronic pain.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) For Chronic Pain
CBT is a type of psychotherapy. It can aid in identifying and modifying patterns of thinking and action that contribute to the aggravation of chronic pain.
Thoughts like “I will never endure this pain” may cross your mind during a particularly painful episode. This is undoubtedly going to make you feel even worse. A cognitive behavioral therapist can aid in this process. Then, dealing with the ups and downs of chronic pain may be less of a struggle.
There are many different ways in which cognitive behavioral therapy might be useful. According to Welsh, among the pain management tactics, you’ll pick up activity pacing and distraction. She continues, “You’ll work together with your therapist to discover methods to enrich your life, despite your sorrow.”
Multiple studies have found that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) aids in the management of chronic pain caused by a wide range of medical disorders.
According to one study, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is effective in alleviating MS patients’ pain and sadness (MS).
Mindfulness-Based Therapies for Chronic Pain
Yoga and meditation are essential components of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR). As a result, you can feel less pain and tension and develop a deeper connection to your body.
Selecting the best treatment for chronic pain can be challenging. If you want some ideas on what your doctor might suggest, you can always ask.
According to Welsh, CBT should be the first line of treatment for the vast majority of people. As she puts it, “CBT offers the most research base for pain management.” If you’ve never tried treatment before but are in constant pain, you should start here.
Indeed, mental health therapy can be an effective way to manage chronic pain. It can help identify and address underlying issues that may be contributing to it and provide tools and strategies for managing pain in the long run. If you are struggling with chronic pain, consider seeking out a mental health therapist to see if this method could help you.
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