Psychological Therapy in Pain Management

Psychological Therapy in Pain Management

Pain can mean different things to different people. Some people are better equipped to cope with pain for a long period of time, while it can provoke fear and distraction in others. Pain will have a different meaning for the person experiencing it than the doctor trying to treat it. Those that are dealing with long term, chronic pain may feel frustrated that their doctor doesn’t understand the level of pain they are experiencing and may even feel that he is not treating it adequately. However, sometimes this battle is a question of mind over matter. Here are a few psychological techniques that can be helpful when dealing with chronic pain.


Biofeedback is the practice of using monitoring equipment to read your body’s involuntary actions and consciously trying to slow them down into a state of relaxation. Sensors record actions such as blood pressure, heart rate, brain waves and muscle contractions and display the readings as a graph or chart on the machine’s screen. These are the actions that tend to increase when the body is under stress, so consciously focusing on slowing down these actions can help in managing pain and stress. Eventually, patients can learn to control their body’s stress without the aid of a machine.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Some patients simply have a difficult time coping with their pain, feeling as though it rules their lives without any hope of change in the future. For these patients, cognitive behavioural therapy can help them with how they approach their pain and changing their attitudes about it so they can go on to lead healthy, productive lives in spite of their pain. This sort of therapy concentrates on identifying negative thought patterns and turning the focus around to facing challenges that can be overcome, stretching and exercise to improve the body’s functions, learning to carefully plan daily tasks and future activities, and relaxation techniques.

Pain Management Programmes

Pain management programmes are rehabilitative programmes that are psychologically based for those that suffer from chronic pain that has not been relieved by other treatments. Typically delivered in a group setting, these programmes are run by an interdisciplinary team of medical professionals that work closely with patients. Each pain management programme is different, with some concentrating on coping with the pain and leading an active life in spite of it, while others may offer complementary therapies such as massage or acupuncture. Many people dealing with chronic pain find these programmes helpful in learning psychological, physical and practical techniques that can help improve their quality of life.

For those suffering from chronic pain, finding the right tools to cope can mean the difference between leading an active, quality-driven life and having one’s life stop in its tracks. There is no one method that works for everyone, so those suffering from chronic pain are encouraged to explore several programmes until they find one they are comfortable with.