Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
A four letter word most people avoid at all costs. Unfortunately, over 100 million Americans suffer from physical pain each year.
So what does my pain have to do with my brain?The biggest misconception people have when they hear that they may need to see a pain psychologist is that they are going to be called crazy or they fear that their doctor doesn’t believe that their pain is real. However, this could not be further from the truth.
Chronic pain, or pain that lasts longer than six months, is best treated by looking at the person as a whole. That includes mind, body, and spirit.
A lot of people who have chronic pain can have thoughts of helplessness, hopelessness, depression, anger, anxiety, and frustration. They sometimes feel guilty for needing help and can feel worthless without the care they get from family and friends.
Feelings like this can happen to anyone, not just those with chronic pain.
However, these feelings can get worse with chronic pain. In order to treat a patient correctly, pain psychology must be a part of the total treatment plan.
Pain psychology helps people through these harmful thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that often impact those with chronic pain.
Pain psychology can help a person go from feeling helpless in their pain treatment to having an active role. It teaches skills and gives you goals to help you manage chronic pain. It looks at the negative effects that chronic pain can have on a person’s life. Goals can focus on day to day living, giving life meaning, and improving quality of life.
Common treatments for pain management typically include opioid or narcotic medications such as Vicodin, Percocet, or Oxycontin which, when mixed with other substances, can cause negative side effects and even death.
Taking medications fora a long time can cause dependence, meaning more of a drug is needed to experience the same effect. It can also cause a physical addiction. This means that withdrawal symptoms (i.e. nausea, muscle aches, sweating, diarrhea, fever, insomnia) are possible when use of the medication is stopped.
Long term pain medication use can actually change the brains’ natural makeup and cause chemical messengers to struggle. This makes it hard for our brains to naturally fix our bodies without the aid of our desired substance. This can confuse the brain and affect things like pleasure, sleep, mood, attention, memory, and learning.
Dependency on medication can cause addiction or substance abuse. Pain can become so bad that people turn to non-prescribed substances like drugs, alcohol, or tobacco to help cope with pain.
With the right treatment, pain and addiction can be properly treated.
Here at Nevada Advanced Pain Specialists, we aim to provide our patients with the most comprehensive care possible, ensuring to treat the patient as a whole.
You can learn more about Margaret Heaton, MFT, who is the head of our Behavioral Health Program here.