Physical pain is an all too familiar experience for most of us. It is part of the human condition. But for a certain segment of the population, pain is a chronic problem that needs to be dealt with every day. And it is not just the physical sensation that has to be dealt with. Chronic pain sufferers also need to deal with psychological and emotional effects.
A Very Real Problem
Chronic pain is defined differently depending on who you are talking to. As a general rule, chronic pain is pain that is experienced daily, or almost daily, for a minimum of three months. There is plenty of leeway for diagnostic and treatment purposes.
So, how serious a problem is chronic pain in the U.S.? The latest numbers from the CDC suggest that more than 51 million people in this country experienced chronic pain at any given time. That is just under 21% of the adult population.
Moreover, just over 17 million chronic pain patients experience high-impact chronic pain. What does that mean? It means that their pain substantially restricts their ability to participate in daily activities.
Pain Has a Psychological Component
Pain is a natural biological function designed as a protective mechanism. Physical pain tells us something is wrong with the body. It is often a warning to change behaviors before more serious damage is done. But pain is not limited to the physical sensation we experience. Pain has a psychological component as well.
The psychological aspects of pain influence thoughts and emotions, and vice versa. For example, a person suffering from chronic pain is likely to feel angry and frustrated at times. Feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and anxiety are all normal as well.
Addressing the Psychological Component
Medical treatments can address the physical and biological aspects of pain. Everything from prescription pain medications to physical therapy is on the table as doctors and patients address pain’s physiological triggers. But how is the psychological component addressed?
Dealing with the psychological aspect requires exploring a patient’s thoughts and feelings regarding both the pain itself and how it is affecting their lives. If you were to visit one of our New Jersey offices in search of help for dealing with chronic pain, you could expect to do a lot of talking. Conversational therapies are among the best tools for exploring the psychological aspects of chronic pain.
What types of things would be discussed? Possibilities include:
- How you experience pain.
- How it affects your daily life.
- How you feel (emotionally) about experiencing chronic pain.
- Any additional stresses you experience as a result of pain.
- Any associated worries or concerns you have.
- How you envision a life without pain.
Virtually any topic is on the table if it is appropriate to helping manage the pain experience. By talking things through with a clinician, you can get a handle on thoughts and emotions and break out of that cycle of hopelessness and despair.
Start Taking Your Life Back
It’s not unusual for chronic pain patients to say that their lives are completely controlled by how they feel from day to day. Chronic pain is that intrusive and overwhelming. If you find yourself in such a position, we want to help you start taking your life back.
We cannot promise that therapy will eliminate your pain completely. But we can promise that we will do everything in our power to help you manage pain by directly addressing its psychological components. Together we can help you change the way you think and feel about pain – and that can make a world of difference in how you live your life.