Acute pain is a normal and necessary sensation that signals us to possible injury or illness. When pain persists, it can be difficult to see how this is necessary and it can negatively impact your life. Individuals with chronic pain may report feeling discomfort, soreness, tightness, or stiffness, and experience pain as shooting, burning, or aching. Chronic pain can lead to fatigue, loss of motivation, and poor eating, sleeping, exercise. Depression and anxiety often result from symptoms of chronic pain.
The intensity of pain you experience often does not equate to the severity of an injury/illness. “It’s all in your head”, is technically true when identifying pain. Pain results when your brain interprets sensation signals sent there from other parts of the nervous system. Several cues are involved in the pain experience, however it is ultimately 100% the brain which decides whether something hurts or not, and how much.
Since the perception of pain is in your brain, you can affect physical pain by adjusting thoughts and behaviors that fuel the intensity of pain.
Cognitive behavioral therapy helps provide pain relief by:
- Educating about how pain works in the nervous system
- Changing thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in response to pain
- Improving coping skills
- Teaching relaxation techniques
- Encouraging problem solving attitudes
- Reframing helpless feelings associated with chronic pain
- Helping you feel more in control of your situation
There is a great deal of evidence to support the effectiveness of various cognitive-behavioral and somatic interventions for reducing pain intensity and improving coping skills. Virtual reality and biofeedback to help you practice skills in a safe setting.