12 AugPAIN, PAIN, GO AWAY: How can psychology help with chronic pain?
Pain is a Safety Mechanism
Pain is a natural human experience. It changes the way we move, think and behave, so that we are aware of dangers to our physical wellbeing. Then we can take care of our bodies and do what is necessary to heal.
What is Chronic Pain?
Chronic pain is pain that lasts beyond the expected healing period of tissue damage or as a result of ongoing stressors on our body’s systems. In other words, we experience pain despite having no new damage to the tissue.
Your Pain is Real.
Chronic pain can feel oppressive, overbearing, and disheartening. It affects how you think and feel. The fear of further injury and pain often stops you from doing the activities you used to love. You may feel sad and lonely and stop doing things all together. Sometimes you can push through the pain only to feel worse later on. Losing hope can affect your very identity and how you think about yourself.
The Neuroscience Revolution (sourced from www.overcomingpain.com)
Psychology can help you learn how to feel better, whether your pain is physical, emotional or a combination of both. Recent discoveries in neuroscience have revolutionized our management of pain. Although it often starts in the body, all pain involves the brain, with a massive 80% overlap in the areas of the brain involved in physical and emotional pain. The good news is that your brain is changeable – capable of being modified by experience. Increased understanding of the brain has led to the development of new strategies for overcoming pain, aimed at changing the patterns of brain activity which maintain pain.
Current strategies that can modify your experience include SSRI anti-depressants, meditation and innovative psychological therapies such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). These methods target the deeper areas of the brain where sensory-emotional aspects of pain are stored. Because they are designed to work with how the brain works, they are both more efficient and more effective than some traditional pain management methods.
See your doctor first to check if Psychology can help with your condition. Your GP may give you a Referral to see a psychologist who is experienced in helping people with Chronic Pain.
By Deb Kahler, Psychologist and EMDR Practitioner
True North Wellness