Chronic pain is any pain that lasts longer than 6 months and is not directly related to a muscular or skeletal injury; it can occur in any part of the body and range in severity from a constant dull ache to a disabling agony. In contrast, pain lasting 6 to 8 weeks in an injured area of the body is referred to as acute pain.
The body and the mind are related and connected in many ways; for instance, chronic pain in the body often occurs in tandem with mental health issues. The stress of continually experiencing sensations of pain has the very real potential of increasing feelings of tension and discomfort in the body (especially in the muscles) Feelings of depression or anxiety or frustration commonly arise in response to persistent pain sensations that are not easily relieved. Likewise, it is also a possibility that sensations of physical pain to develop after a lengthy battle with mental health concerns.
It is understandable if chronically experiencing painful and uncomfortable sensations in the body leads to feeling emotionally exhausted, frustrated, and overwhelmed. Besides traditional treatment of pain with analgesic (painkiller) medication, plans to manage the pain on an individual basis are another option. We all experience pai differently. Exploring different strategies to cope with the pain, perhaps gentle movement (such as walking or swimming), listening to music, socializing with friends, writing or drawing in a diary, or any other activity that has helped to cope with difficult times, might be effective for managing pain too.
Alternative forms of treatment that have also proven effective for individuals with chronic pain include massage, acupuncture, acupressure, and biofeedback. Meditation, yoga, and relaxation are effective strategies to relieve painful sensations and experiences in the mind and body; these are also valuable skills to have in place for coping with other stresses in life.
It is advisable to verify or consult with a medical professional to rule out any underlying root cause of chronic pain before seeking out alternative forms of treatment.
Yes, different forms of “talk therapy” are effective for coping with chronic pain! Whether it is through helping to create pain management plans, increase support levels, explore troublesome emotions and thoughts, or simply relieve the tension built up over time by talking and opening up, counselling really can provide hope and confidence for getting through the difficulties associated with chronically experiencing pain.
Gardner-Nix, J. & Costin-Hall, L. (2009). The Mindfulness Solution to Pain: Step by step techniques for chronic pain management. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications Inc.
Thorne, B.E. (2017). Cognitive Therapy for Chronic Pain. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
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