One-third of the entire U.S. population struggles with chronic pain.
The physical aspect of pain is not the only part that injures the patient. The emotional impact clinicians say is far greater. This leads to loss of motivation, an inability to cope, high medical costs, lost productivity, lower functionality and a worsening of the condition, all leading into a downward spiral.
Today, physicians recognize that the best way to approach chronic pain is through a multidisciplinary approach, including visiting a psychologist or psychiatrist. These professionals deal specifically with pain patients, helping to alleviate the depression, anxiety, stress and despair that often accompanies and worsens the condition. Pain experts have long realized that the experience of pain is just as individual as those which it inhabits. Oftentimes, the amount of pain professed by the patient does not equate to the damage inflicted on their body. Pain is still something of a mystery to medical science. There is no technological way to observe it.
Doctors must rely on assessments such as the West Haven-Yale Multidimensional Pain Inventory. It asks not only about sensation but the person’s mood, the pains interference in daily life whether or not the patient feels they have control over their own life and more. One approach that mental health professionals teach is cognitive self-regulation techniques. These are strategies that sufferers can use to control their chronic pain. They include biofeedback and relaxation techniques.
Stress and anxiety heighten pain. But relaxation lowers it and puts it into perspective. With biofeedback, pain patients work with a practitioner to control certain body metrics using a machine. Slowly they begin to learn how to do these things themselves. Lowering their heartrate for instance using a mental trick can in turn calm them and dial down their pain. Another psychological method that has shown success is cognitive behavioral therapy. Talk to your doctor if you believe you may benefit from adding psychological treatment to your pain management plan.