Managing pain is a difficult process that requires a multifaceted approach. Often the most effective treatments is the one that combines several disciplines. Recent studies have shown that psychological treatments for pain, when combined with traditional therapy, can be extremely effective at alleviating symptoms and easing suffering.
Cognitive behavioral therapy is a common type of mental health counseling that can help patients change the way they think about pain. When mental focus is shifted away from pain, patients can change the way their body responds to anticipated pain and stress. This therapy focuses on changing thoughts about illness and encourages positive ways to cope.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy is a form of clinical behavior analysis that uses acceptance and mindfulness to teach better control of thoughts and sensations. ACT teaches psychological flexibility and acceptance of one's experience, rather than change or control of symptoms, is emphasized. This method offers a way to change the patients' relationship between themselves and their pain.
Mindfulness and meditation can also assist in coping with persistent pain. By bringing the mind back to the present, mindfulness and meditation can alleviate stress and assist in relaxation. Encouraging the brain to accept pain’s existence rather than fight against it can release the distress of chronic pain and help the mind be more receptive to what happens next. Instead of a life resigned to pain, introducing meditation to a daily routine can help patients accept chronic pain as simply another facet of life. The benefits of meditation are numerous and well-documented.
Behavioral therapy and self-regulatory treatments help to reduce pain intensity, improve emotional and physical functioning, reduce pain-specific disability, improve health-related quality of life, reduce doctor visits, and reduce pain-medication use.
As always, consult a certified pain physician before beginning any new treatment regimen. For more help discussing options on multidisciplinary treatment, contact The Washington Center for Pain Management, and discuss your treatment plan with our Bellevue pain doctors.