Do you suffer from persistent pain?
Have you struggled to find effective remedies to reduce your pain?
Psychologists are well suited to treat your pain according to the latest scientific findings.
Definition of Pain
Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual tissue damage or is described in terms of such damage (Mersky 1979).
Impact of Pain
- Pain is Australia’s third most costly health problem and arguably the developed world’s largest ‘undiscovered’ health priority. (Professor Michael Cousins AM, Chair National Pain Strategy 2012).
- The estimated cost of pain to the economy is $34 billion per annum (Access Economics 2007).
- One in five Australians experience chronic pain.
- 80% miss out on treatments that could improve their quality of life.
Given these high figures, there has been a lot of research looking for answers. Since 2010, studies have shown that best practice pain management requires managing physical, psychological and environmental factors.
How Psychological Therapy Helps
- Psychological therapy can provide much needed support since pain can impact on many areas of a patient’s life.
- Pain often affects not only the patient, but their family, employment, leisure activities and life goals. These can be addressed by a psychologist who may engage the family in family therapy or who may write reports and liaise with the employer.
- Pain regularly presents with comorbid depression and anxiety. Psychologists are well trained to treat depression and anxiety and any other mental health concerns that may be present. A competent psychologist would be able to tease out the different concerns if appropriate and know where to focus.
- In the past five years, neurobiologists have determined that pain is located in the brain and not in the affected limb or organ. Psychologists trained in neuro-psychotherapy will treat the pain by focusing on developing new neural networks and diminishing the memory networks created by the pain in the past.
- Psychological treatment for pain has become increasingly acknowledged by doctors who have seen that pharmaceuticals alone frequently do not diminish pain. The work target needs to be the neurobiological level where you are changing the structural problem that is causing the pain, namely, the neural circuits carrying memory of pain.
- Classically, people in pain withdraw. They tend to curl up and wait for the pain to go away. Frequently this contributes to depression.
- Fear of pain returning or escalating can lead to anxiety. Building resilience assists the patient face their pain with tenacity.
- Many patients have all sorts of beliefs around pain such as “pain is disastrous” or “I cannot bear this pain” or “when will it end?” Working with a patient to clarify these provocative thoughts, challenging them and replacing them with helpful thoughts go a long way to assist in coping with pain.
- A majority of individuals suffering from pain shelter themselves, withdraw and are immobile. Psychologists can help motivate a patient to get moving.
- Best practice for treating pain is to have the physical cause of the pain treated or removed initially. If the pain does not disappear, psychological therapy is indicated.
What is Pain?
The primary purpose of pain is to assist with survival.
In the past five years, experts have come to view pain as a disorder in its own right. Pain can persist long after the initial trauma has passed. That is because pain resides in the brain and not in the body, limbs or organs. It also explains why individuals with the same condition will experience different levels of pain and why some pain never goes.
The neurobiology of pain
The latest technology permits us to examine the brain in an increasingly detailed manner. We are now beginning to see how the brain functions on the level of neurons. We now know that when we experience something intensely, it forms a memory loop in the brain. That memory loop will continue to circle and create sensations as it did initially unless it is stopped.
Pain is an intense experience and creates a memory circuit in the brain. The discovery that pain and memory are linked has led to the increased recognition that psychologists are an essential part of a successful treatment plan to eliminate pain.
How Anxiety Solutions CBT Psychology Practice can Help
Renee Mill, the principal Clinical Psychologist atAnxiety Solutions CBT Psychology Practice stays abreast of the latest developments in psychology and passes on her knowledge to her team and clients. In June 2016, she attended a course entitled “The Brain and Persistent Pain – from neuroscience to practical strategies for treatment”.
What is reported in this post is backed by the latest scientific research which has proven that the most effective way of treating pain is with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). One focus of CBT is to challenge defeating thoughts and replace them with helpful or empowering thoughts. For example if a patient believes that their pain is worse than anybody else’s or is unbearable, they will feel worse than if they change their belief to thinking this pain falls within the normal range and many people have coped with it.
Another focus of CBT is to change behaviours. For instance, if a patient is withdrawn and immobile, CBT will assist in helping the patient to get moving and to break the unhealthy pattern.
Mindfulness practice has also been demonstrated to reduce pain. When a patient learns “distress tolerance” it goes a long way to reducing fear of the pain and increasing the ability to live life effectively even with pain.
If you or someone you care about is suffering with pain, we can help. Call 02 9328 5899 now.