Coping with and managing chronic pain involves many processes. These are; learning all about pain, understanding where it comes from and how it starts. Unlike acute pain, which eventually subsides, chronic pain is something altogether different. There are no magic cures, and relief from chronic pain is hard work. Treatment can be both emotionally and physically demanding.
With psychological treatment of chronic pain, a patient will learn that pain messages can be interrupted and halted in their tracks. Patients can learn to cope more effectively with chronic pain through different exercises and special behavioural techniques that can change their attitude, so pain stops being the main focus in their life.
To begin with an individual needs to become familiar with the three components of the pain experience. Firstly, the sensory component, (which is the actual physical sensation); secondly the affective component (which is the unpleasant emotional experience); and thirdly; the cognitive evaluative component (where the individual evaluates the importance or seriousness of the pain which he or she experiences).
Clients undergoing psychological treatment for pain learn about the factors which can increase the level of physical feeling of pain, such as; excessive attention to pain; anxiety about the pain; depression, sadness and boredom; feelings of helplessness; and also a fear of the pain.
Clients can replace these negative connections to pain with more positive activities and attitudes, such as; distraction techniques, happiness and excitement; the feeling of having a degree of control over their pain; a calmer outlook on life; and the ability to control stress. In some cases, this is a long slow process. However, it is ultimately rewarding to discover that everyone has the capacity to control pain; even pain of a more severe kind, by engaging in a variety of different activities, as listed above, and focusing on the positives in life.
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