Coping with Chronic Pain & Chronic Medical Conditions
Chronic pain, characterized by its long lasting duration, can have a significant effect on a person’s life. After the acute pain from an injury has subsided, some people continue to experience chronic pain. Additionally, some individuals with medical conditions such as fibromyalgia or the side effects from cancer treatments may also experience chronic pain. Medical interventions may only partly relieve the symptoms.
Problematic thinking may precede or accompany the avoidance of activities which could potentially enhance physical wellness. An unhealthy cycle can ensue in which a person may adopt dysfunctional automatic thoughts about their pain. For example:
- “I will be incapable of doing anything if I feel unwell today.”
- “It means my condition is deteriorating.”
- “I won’t even bother walking the dog anymore – I’ll likely worsen my pain”.
The avoidance behavior can contribute to the worsening of a physical condition, such as diminished muscle tone, resulting in a further limitation of physical functioning. In turn, an increase in depression, feelings of helplessness, anger or anxiety can arise.
Treatment for Dealing with Chronic Pain
Interventions used in treating chronic pain
Initially, you’re taught to understand the interplay of cognitions and behavior and how this affects the perception of pain and suffering.
You are then taught a variety of coping strategies which can include:
- Cognitive restructuring
- Relaxation training
- Pacing behaviors
- Adaptive coping skills
- Resiliency training