CBT and chronic pain

woman in pain at work.jpeg

Living with chronic pain can be a debilitating and life-altering situation for many. There are many reasons a person can begin to suffer from chronic pain, from underlying genetic problems to the result of a traumatic injury. Whatever the cause, there is always a way to lessen the impact of chronic pain, and prevent future issues from arising.

Potential Issues

Although the cause of chronic pain can vary on a case-by-case basis, the issues that can arise as a result of it overlap considerably more. One of the biggest problems with chronic pain is the debilitating factor of it. Because people are in pain, they are much less likely to engage in other activities, which leads to a whole host of new problems.

People with chronic pain tend to become much more sedentary than they would otherwise be, which can lead to things like obesity or heart problems further down the line. This also means that they tend to become much less social, which becomes increasingly true as time goes on. As time passes, people become much less inclined to go out, or even have guests over, which leads to isolationism, which can then go on to cause feelings of depression.

Furthermore, the inactivity will often cause the original condition to deteriorate, as people give up on fighting it and accept the pain as it comes in. This does not have to be the case.

How Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Can Help

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can help people living with chronic pain by changing their mindset. The aim of CBT is to remove all negativity associated with the condition, and to empower the patient to take control of their own life. This proactive approach to the situation prevents it from deteriorating and staves off the other problems mentioned above.

CBT is suited for people who cannot attend or would not benefit from regular therapy sessions. The goal of CBT is to enable the individual to deal with the situation as much as possible by themselves, making them as independent as possible and reducing the impact the condition will have on their day-to-day lives.

A large part of this is simply reframing the patient’s mentality to give them a can-do attitude. This involves teaching the patient not to focus on what they used to do, but on what they can do now. Once the patient is prepared to tackle their pain head on, CBT teaches the patient how to change their behaviour and adapt to their pain.

CBT will also teach the individual to change their thought processes, encouraging them to cut out negative thoughts and approach problems in a more positive way. The patient then uses their more positive mindset to learn new skills or new methods that will reduce their pain, and the impact it has on their daily lives.

Unfortunately, the options for dealing with chronic pain are limited. But while in many cases it may not be possible to eliminate the pain completely, CBT can help a patient to achieve many of the same results. The earlier the process begins, the more effective it will be, so if you are suffering from chronic pain, speak with a therapist about the options available to you. 

David Clarke