The Behavioral Management of Pain

SS26037The Behavioral Pain Management Program at Psychological HealthCare employs psychologists and clinical social workers who specialize in the behavioral management of pain and work with physical medicine physicians to help patients manage and reduce their pain.

Our behavioral pain management specialists can help reduce physical pain in many ways. The can teach relaxation technique such as progressive muscle relaxation. They can use imagery and hypnotic techniques designed to reduce the experience of pain. They can employ psychotherapeutic techniques to change cognitions and behavior that affect pain.

Chronic pain patients often become anxious and depressed because they are in constant pain, and the pain keeps them from functioning in many important life roles such as family, recreational and occupational activities. These functions include the ability to work and provide for their families, and to function normally in their relationship roles, including their sexual relationships. Financial hardships frequently accompany chronic pain problems due to the patient’s inability to work, which then affects feelings of self-worth and can lead to increased depression and anxiety.

Cognitive/behavioral psychotherapy can be used to help patients modify their emotional reactions to pain. This therapy can be employed to restructure thinking and shift any negative self-defeating pain-enhancing thoughts to more relaxation-oriented and reality-based thinking. It can also be used to motivate the patient to make life-style changes that could decrease pain such as beginning a moderate exercise program or losing weight. Changes in perception brought about by this therapy reduce the negative effects of these life stressors, that in turn reduces levels of anxiety and depression, increases feelings of self-worth, and thereby decreases the perception of pain.

All of these issues are often successfully addressed in a comprehensive pain management program that includes cognitive/behavioral psychotherapy, relaxation training, hypnosis, and guided imagery.