Chronic Pain: How Psychology can help

This Psychology Week, LiveBig is spreading awareness about how psychology can help individuals experiencing chronic pain.

What is chronic pain?

Pain is said to be chronic when it extends beyond the expected healing time of an injury and can accompany chronic illnesses such as arthritis or lupus (Pfizer Health Report, 2011; Stollznow Research for Pfizer Australia, 2010). It is typically described as pain that lasts for three months or longer. As many as one in three Australians (35%) experience chronic pain, with this number increasing to 49% in adults 65 and older. Chronic pain can have a significant societal burden; in 2018, the financial cost of chronic pain was estimated to be $139.3 billion (Pain Australia, 2019).

 

Impacts of chronic pain

Beyond physical pain, experiencing persistent pain can impact an individual’s social and psychological wellbeing.

Individuals with chronic pain can also experience:

  • Difficulty maintaining usual routine (ability to work or go to school)
  • Upset sleep
  • Appetite and nutrition issues
  • Social isolation and withdrawal from friends and family
  • Depression and anxiety

 

The role of psychology in pain management

Almost 87% of Australians experiencing chronic pain have limited awareness of how psychological treatment could help with the pain. However, those who have received psychological treatment view it as an essential part of their recovery.

There is strong evidence to show that psychology is effective in treating chronic pain. Psychology aims to change an individual’s relationship with their pain. Whilst this won’t get rid of the pain altogether, it can help individuals normalise and become less affected by their pain and hence live a better life.

Psychologists are experts in helping people cope with the thoughts, feelings and behaviours that accompany chronic pain. They can work with the individuals to improve sleep health, manage their ability to work and help maintain a balanced routine.

Cognitive based therapy (CBT) is an evidence-based treatment for chronic pain. It aims to address unhelpful thinking and behavioural patterns so that the client can have more productive thoughts and behaviours that lead to reducing pain. Psychologists are good at helping people develop skills to help change unhelpful thoughts and behaviours, self-manage their symptoms over the long-term and overcome any barriers to recovery.

 

How LiveBig can help

Our sessions are based around getting to know you as a person and your experiences.

These can involve understanding what negative and unhelpful thoughts you may be having about your pain and how it has been impacting you. We will aim to identify coping strategies as well as building upon a more positive and helpful relationship towards yourself.

 

If you are interested in our Psychology services, get in touch today or phone 1300 390 222.

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