Chronic Pain Therapy

Managing mental health is an important part of chronic pain management.
Chronic Pain Therapy
Various types of therapy are used for the management of pain. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), biofeedback therapy, and mindfulness-based therapy can all be especially useful.

What is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain refers to pain that lasts beyond three months and affects a person’s daily living. This condition affects millions of people in the United States. According to the latest research, more than 20 percent of Americans live with chronic pain on a daily basis. 

Chronic pain refers to pain that lasts at least 3 months. It can be felt as stiffness, aching, burning, or throbbing pain anywhere in the body. Chronic pain can significantly interfere with your mobility and activities of daily living. 

What Causes Chronic Pain?

Many things can cause chronic pain. Common causes of chronic pain include: 

  • Injuries – Broken bones and previous injuries can cause lasting pain that continues even after the injury has healed. 
  • Back problems  – Back problems and injuries to the spinal cord are common causes of chronic pain.  
  • Arthritis and joint problems – Arthritis and other inflammatory conditions can result in chronic pain. 
  • Nerve damage – Chronic diseases like diabetes can damage nerves and lead to pain. 
  • Cancer and other illnesses –  Cancer, shingles, and other infections can result in chronic pain. Some people have fibromyalgia, which is a disease that causes chronic pain. 
  • Idiopathic – Sometimes there is no known cause of chronic pain. When this happens, it is called idiopathic. 

Some people are more at risk of chronic pain than others due to genetics, environmental, and other factors.

How is chronic pain related to mental health? 

Dealing with physical pain is bad enough, but additional studies have revealed that it goes far beyond that. Mental health and chronic pain go hand-in-hand. Chronic pain can lead to depression and anxiety. That’s because chronic pain can interfere with your life and make it hard to do basic things. 

Pain that lasts for months or even years can impact your relationships and work. It can also lead to problems with sleep, making you feel worse. This is why treatment should address both physical pain and mental health symptoms that can result from chronic pain. 

Treatments for Chronic Pain

If you are experiencing pain that lasts for months and doesn’t seem to get better, it’s important to talk to your doctor. There are a variety of treatments for chronic pain. These can help you better manage chronic pain and do things that you enjoy. 

Medical Treatments

Medications. Both prescription and non-prescription medications are used to treat chronic pain. Usually, doctors will start with over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen. If those don’t work, then they might prescribe medications for pain. Prescription pain medications include antidepressants like Cymbalta, which has been shown to be effective for pain, and stronger opioid medications. Most physicians do not routinely prescribe opioids for chronic pain as these drugs have considerable side effects and risks.

Injections. Steroid injections are sometimes used to treat joint pain. These can help reduce swelling and inflammation, which is common with joint pain. Trigger point injections are another type of injections used for pain. They are used to treat painful areas of muscle or “trigger points.” These injections help the muscle relax.

Physical therapy. Physical therapy is another common treatment for pain. Physical therapy can help relieve pain by improving movement and range-of-motion. It can also help strengthen and stretch sore, tight muscles that contribute to pain.

Psychological Treatments

Psychological treatments have been found to help with chronic pain. Various types of therapy are used for the management of pain. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), biofeedback therapy, and mindfulness-based therapy can all be especially useful. These therapies can also be helpful for treating depression and other co-occurring mental health disorders.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Among all of the methods for pain control, CBT is often one of the most effective. It helps to improve the quality of life significantly for people with pain. Chronic pain can lead to anger, sadness, and anxiety. These feelings can make the perception of pain worse. CBT works by helping to change your perception of pain — even if the level of pain stays the same.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. In recent years, many studies have shown mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) to be an effective tool in pain management. MBCT is a modified version of CBT that incorporates mindfulness practices such as meditation and breathing exercises as tools in teaching clients to break away from negative thought patterns.

Biofeedback therapy. Biofeedback therapy is a non-drug treatment in which you learn to control heart rate, muscle tension and other bodily processes that are connected with pain. Electrodes are attached to your skin or fingers during a biofeedback session. The electrodes send signals to a monitor. The monitor displays information about your heart rate and other body processes. When you are in pain, there will be changes in your body. For instance, your muscles may tense or your heart rate might speed up. You’ll see these changes on the screen or monitor. Then, you’ll be given immediate feedback from a biofeedback therapist during the session, who will help you learn how to change your body’s reaction to pain. Biofeedback helps you make subtle changes in your body that promote relaxation. This process helps reduce pain.

Holistic Treatments

When they are included in a comprehensive treatment plan for pain, these techniques can be quite effective in reversing chronic pain.

Lifestyle Changes. Healthy lifestyle changes can help when it comes to managing chronic pain. Managing stress, having a consistent sleep routine, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and exercising on a regular basis are important lifestyle changes that can make a big impact on chronic pain. 

Acupuncture. Acupuncture involves the insertion of tiny needles into the skin at specific points around the body. This technique corrects imbalances in the flow of energy throughout the body. It is thought to help with pain by targeting neurotransmitters or chemicals in the brain that contribute to pain. The low risk of complications and adverse effects of this technique combined with its effectiveness make it a good choice for chronic pain management.

Chiropractic treatment. Chiropractic treatment has been found to provide mild to moderate relief of back, neck, and shoulder pain. During this treatment, a licensed chiropractor will perform spinal manipulative therapy to help relieve pain and improve physical functioning.

Mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation is a simple practice that can help reduce pain. It involves focusing your mind in the present moment and letting go of negative thoughts. Mindfulness meditation is easy to do and takes just a couple of minutes. Regular meditation can help with relaxation and stress reduction and in turn help to decrease inflammatory pain to a certain degree. More importantly, meditation helps to promote endorphin release and assist in counteracting depression, which is common in chronic pain.

Yoga. Yoga is a practice that has its roots in ancient Indian philosophy. This practice combines breathing techniques with physical postures. It also includes a relaxation or meditation component. Research shows that yoga is quite effective at reducing chronic pain associated with migraine, fibromyalgia, low back pain and more. Research suggests that shows that yoga has the opposite effect on the brain as pain. This action helps relieve chronic pain.

What Can You Do To Get the Most Out of Treatment? 

Even though there isn’t a cure for chronic pain, it can be managed successfully with a combination of treatments. It’s important to stick to the pain management plan that you and your doctor came up with. 

Also, continue to engage in daily activities whenever possible. This will help you decrease stress and boost your mood, both of which are important when it comes to dealing with chronic pain. It’s also helpful to join a support group. You can talk to others who have experienced chronic pain and learn what has worked for them. 

Living With Chronic Pain

Living with chronic pain can be difficult. The good news is that there are plenty of treatments that have shown promise in reducing pain. The first step in managing chronic pain is to choose a treatment plan that addresses the emotional and physical aspects of pain. Locate a therapist in your area or online who specializes in chronic pain therapy.

Post-Pandemic Update 

Because of the pandemic, people living with chronic pain experienced significant challenges in their everyday lives. Being socially isolated, losing work, and experiencing a greater degree of stress all aggravated chronic pain. This is why it’s so important for people with chronic pain to seek therapy to help them cope with stressors as these may negatively affect chronic pain. 


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