What Is Pain?
Pain is a highly personal, subjective experience, says Roger Fillingim, PhD, a psychologist and director of the Pain Research and Intervention Center of Excellence at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Biologic processes are important to address in relieving pain—but so are psychological and social factors. “This goes for all pain, regardless of origin,” he says.
In some patients, the psychosocial factors are stronger than for others, but even when the pain is mostly biologic in origin, psychosocial interventions can still prove effective. “For example, we know hypnosis reduces postoperative pain, and deep breathing and relaxation have been shown to be effective in relieving pain,” Dr. Fillingim says. Reducing a patient’s anxiety and increasing feelings of control also have an impact on pain and physical functioning.
In a recent review, Louise Sharpe, PhD, professor at the School of Psychology at the University of Sydney, Australia, highlighted research showing efficacy of psychological therapy for managing pain in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.2 A study in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice found cognitive behavioral therapy an effective alternative to opioids for chronic nonmalignant pain, either as a standalone treatment or in combination with non-opioid medications.3| ← Previous | | | Next → | Single Page