It’s natural to feel down but you don’t need to carry that hurt and sadness with you every day. Our goal isn’t to replace the medical support you may already receive, it’s about learning how to thrive despite chronic pain. Many patients find that managing their condition makes them more resilient. Chronic pain affects you but it doesn’t have to control you.
Chronic pain is pain that persists for more than three months. Coping with illness for months and years is tiring and stressful. This can lead to depression, anxiety, cognitive impairment and difficulty sleeping, which makes problems worse. Chronic pain is different from acute pain. You’ll normally experience acute pain with injuries like cuts, bruises or fractured bones. Acute pain usually subsides once your body recovers. Chronic pain, by contrast, keeps on going. This pain could be steady or fluctuating. It may have begun with a specific injury or infection. But the brain receives abnormal messages from the nervous system long after the original condition.
Medical disorders can also cause ongoing pain, including: Arthritis, Coronary disease, Cancer, Diabetes, Fibromyalgia (muscular pain all over your body), Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Nerve damage (neurogenic pain). In some cases, chronic pain happens for no clear reason, but it doesn’t mean the pain is any less real to the person experiencing it. Common types of pain include back pain, headaches or joint pain. Many people find it has a debilitating effect, reducing their ability to work or do day-to-day tasks. It is a lot to handle. It can make you feel like you’re not in control of your life anymore. You may socialise less often or withdraw from favourite activities for fear of hurting yourself again.
Extreme sensitivity to touch, heat and cold
Trauma and stress make a pain disorder worse for both you and your family. You may feel tired all the time, which affects your ability to do things you normally enjoy.
Insomnia (trouble sleeping)
If you’ve been struggling to stay focused, or have become easily irritated, there are steps you can take to feel rejuvenated and happy again.
How can psychologists help people with chronic pain? In our practice, we treat many patients with chronic pain. We see that lots of people have created stress for themselves by feeling hopeless and overwhelmed. Our role as psychologists is to help manage your thoughts, feelings and behaviours and improve your quality of life. We often collaborate with healthcare professionals who specialise in physical pain symptoms.
Where and when you experience pain
Whether anything makes it better or worse
Things in your medical history (illness, surgery) that may be important.
We’ll also ask you to discuss any stress or anxiety and how much your pain affects your routine. Usually, we will give you a questionnaire to help record your feelings and thoughts.
Once we have worked with you to identify what’s contributing to your pain, we can then develop a personalised treatment plan.
When you’re coping with negative emotions, it’s easy to get stuck. You might feel like nothing can help and that this is just how your life will always be. As psychologists, we can provide you with self-care techniques. These aim to help you stay positive when living with a long-term illness and manage chronic pain. The way we approach pain depends on each person and takes into account age, general health, the kind of pain and its cause (if known). Psychological therapy may form a part of a wider strategy from other professionals. It might involve medication, physical therapies and lifestyle changes. With chronic pain, medicines are not always effective. However, tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline are often prescribed for nerve pain.
In short, how you deal with your emotions directly affects your pain experience. Fatigue, depression, anxiety, stress and problems at work or home can make the pain more challenging to cope with. This can cause muscle tension or spasms, which may worsen your pain. Stress also contributes to health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity.
Many lifestyle factors that you can manage yourself help both physical and mental symptoms.
Regular low-intensity exercise (of a kind that’s safe to do with a chronic pain condition)
Following a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet
Getting enough good quality sleep
Our evidence-based treatments will teach you various self-care techniques to control stress and give you a new perspective on pain.
Counselling and psychological therapies also help you develop coping skills and change how you think about pain.
A successful course of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) enables you to challenge negative thoughts and change how your brain processes pain signals.
You can learn how to pace yourself during each day and talk to others about why you need to take time out for yourself. Pain management means doing things differently. Gradually you can reintroduce the activities you used to enjoy as your energy levels improve.
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When you feel like there’s no end in sight, we can help clear the fog. Rather than letting your feelings and worries drag you down, you can use some of the strategies mentioned above to help you stay positive. There is no universal way to treat pain that works for everybody. How each individual reacts to different therapies varies dramatically. So, it’s important to know what is available for chronic pain and how each of the treatment options works. Book an appointment to discuss how to find support and relief while living with chronic pain.
Do you feel like stress is taking over your life? It doesn't actually have to be something you get on with. Come and discuss options for reducing stress and get back to enjoying the things you love.
Are you struggling to get good quality sleep? You’ve come to the right place. We are leading London sleep specialists.
Do you think you may be impacted by trauma? Our therapists specialise in a range of therapy models proven to help manage the symptoms of trauma.
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