Pain Conditions and Non-Drug Interventions to Aid Pain Management
If you identify with any of the above thoughts, you are not alone! One in three people living in the United States suffers from pain. There are several different types of pain such as surgery related pain, burns, injuries, cancer related pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain associated with trauma. When you experience bodily pain, your nervous system alerts you to prevent additional physical harm, as a biological function to ensure your survival. When there is an injury, the nerves send signals to protect the body and the injured area. Once the injury heals, these nerves usually relax and return to a normal level of functioning. If the nerves persist in a heightened sensitivity state, your pain can continue even though the injury is healed. Changes to the brain and nervous system can occur as a result, leading to chronic pain (Thorn, 2017). Retrain Pain offers this brief lesson to help explain why we have pain.
A Brief Word on the Assessment of Pain
There are different ways to describe and measure pain. Aside from considering the frequency, intensity, and duration of your pain sensations, we also want to consider how it impacts your daily living. When you perceive that your pain is moderate to severe and is affecting your quality of life more than it should, psychological consultation is a necessary aspect for your pain management treatment team. Pain can impact daily living in ways such as completion of household tasks, socializing/having fun, and activities that contribute to quality of life.
Available Pain Treatments and Self-Management
The current opioid epidemic draws attention to the critical need for better pain treatment options. Opioid use risks include suicide and opioid misuse and harm. In 2019, the United States Health and Human Services Department (HHS) released a Pain Management Best Practices document.
The Task Force recommends using treatments from one or more areas which may include:
I am able to work with most patients living with pain through my psychology residency training, postdoctoral fellowship training, and experience in physical rehabilitation facilities, dialysis center, and primary care community health clinic. I am also a certified Empowered Relief Class Instructor. I believe that a coordinated healthcare team approach is the best way to support you in managing your pain, reducing medication use, and restoring your functioning and quality of life.
Pain conditions I treat include:
If you don't see your pain condition here, I may still be able to help you.. just ask!
Recommended pain management interventions include:
Barriers to a Coordinated Pain Management Approach with Psychological Treatment
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for healthcare providers to prescribe medication without considering or educating about the emotional or lifestyle factors that may influence your pain levels. Our healthcare system tends to operate in "silos" such that physicians don't have many psychologist referral sources to collaborate with on pain issues. Unfortunately psychologists are more likely to be involved only as a "last resort" when medication/medical interventions haven't worked. There is also undue stigma associated with counseling referrals. A counseling referral doesn't mean that your doctor is denying your pain or suggesting it's all in your head, but rather is providing team-based, whole person care.
How Will Counseling/Therapy Help My Pain Condition?