How Psychological Testing Can Help with Chronic Pain Management

Person holding stress ball.

Unless you’re experiencing post-injury pain, chronic pain is nearly always multidimensional. It can occur due to a wide range of reasons that can be psychological as well psychosocial. When diagnosing the root cause of the pain, the correct course of action is to have a multidimensional diagnosis.

This is where psychological testing comes in. The assessment includes diagnosing conditions like excessive somatic thoughts, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, insomnia and other psychological factors that cause chronic pain.

Once these conditions are diagnosed, the pain treatment plan is tailored to manage the patient’s psychological condition and chronic pain. Here are some of the most common treatment plans for chronic pain rooted in a psychological disorder.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is one of the most commonly used forms of therapy for psychological treatment of chronic pain. Many people experience inaccurate or distorted understanding of their pain and as a result, feel it stronger than it is. This therapy is used to correct the patient’s inaccurate cognition and improve their overall functioning.

There are primarily two types of cognitions related to chronic pain: Catastrophizing and Kinesiophobia. Both these conditions can negatively impact the patient’s perception of pain, may cause depression, and even decrease functioning. Therefore, CBT is an effective way to address these cognitions and reduce pain.

Emotional Awareness and Expression Therapy (EAET)

EAET has emerged as a new but effective form of treatment that adds the psychological dimension to the treatment of pain. It helps patients develop a clear understanding of their mental state and allows them to express their emotional experiences. This treatment is particularly useful for conditions like fibromyalgia.

Relaxation Therapy

Chronic pain is often associated with the brain’s hyperarousal. For this reason, psychological treatments that decrease the stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system can help alleviate pain. When choosing this route, experts may use progressive relaxation, relaxation training, and other related treatments.

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Stress Reduction from Mindfulness

Mindfulness is key to regulating pain in patients. Many patients with chronic pain don’t allow themselves to experience the pain properly. Mindfulness allows them to experience and examine the sensory aspects of pain while removing all negative thoughts and feelings. This has been known to reduce the level of perceived pain.

Treatment of Insomnia

Hyperarousal is one of the most common causes of insomnia. Many patients with chronic pain tend to have sleep disorders and report sleeping less than four hours at night. This leads to exhaustion, which, in turn, increases the level of pain. For this reason, managing the sleep disorder can also reduce the perceived level of pain.

Shifting Focus to Functional Gains

Once the psychological aspect of chronic pain is determined, experts tend to shift the patient’s focus to improving their overall functioning. Instead of trying to eliminate pain, focusing on increased function, range of movement and strength allows them to manage their pain better. Simple activities like daily walks can be incorporated into their routines to see significant results.

Consult the physiotherapists at 5 STAR CLINIC LTD

If you are experiencing chronic pain, the experts at 5 STAR CLINIC LTD in Preston can do a free psychological evaluation and provide pain relief therapies such as physiotherapy, acupuncture, massage, hypnotherapy, and more.

Contact us today to learn more about our services.

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