Falling ill or having an accident can cause a great deal of pain and mental health concerns relating to such an event. Feeling pain is a universal human experience. It has no boundaries and crosses all ages, genders, and ethnicities. Pain serves the purpose of alerting us to problems with our body. It brings attention to injuries and often accompanies illnesses and diseases that require special attention.
Pain of a short duration is acute pain. According to the Cleveland Clinic, acute pain is sharp and specific. A few examples for this are broken bones, a tooth ache, or surgery. Such pain is expected to subside within 6 months and the person will go on with his or her life in the usual way.
Pain that lasts more than 6 months and is ongoing is chronic pain. This type of pain persists even though the body has healed from injury of illness. Some people can suffer from chronic pain in the absence of injury or apparent illness. A few examples of chronic pain are arthritis, nerve pain, or certain types of headaches.
Treatment for Chronic Pain
Medical doctors and allied healthcare professionals can provide state-of-the-art treatments for chronic pain. Such treatments can include medication, surgery, physiotherapy, and rehabilitation; however, pain does not only have a biological sensation but includes psychological and emotional factors. When people suffer from ongoing pain, they can become overwhelmed with sadness, depression, anger, hopelessness, anxiety, and fear of re-injury. Clearly, a person suffering from chronic pain requires treatment that addresses physical, emotional and psychological factors.
Chronic Pain Syndrome
According to the Institute for Chronic Pain (ICP), Chronic Pain Syndrome can develop when a person suffers from chronic pain, which essentially increases physical and emotional pain in a vicious cycle. This cycle often begins with insomnia, when a person with chronic pain has trouble sleeping. Ongoing sleep deprivation then can cause irritability, depression and anxiety and possibly a breakdown of a person’s ability to work. Being unable to work, this person can experience financial distress. Worrying about money will cause more insomnia and associated physical and mental health problems. Becoming financially dependent or being unable to function in the person’s role within the family can trigger guilt, feelings of inadequacy, and meaninglessness in life. Essentially a person’s ability to cope with everyday life breaks down. It is essential to help individuals with chronic pain to avoid secondary physical and emotional problems as outlined in the vicious cycle of chronic pain syndrome.
This is how a counselor can help:
- Sleep problems can be identified and addressed.
- Through counseling individuals suffering from chronic pain can improve coping skills and learn to manage anxiety, depression and sleep disorders.
- Through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) persons suffering from chronic pain can learn to change negative thoughts. Through this process, they develop more control over their emotions, moods, and pain.
- Counseling geared towards mind-body treatments for chronic pain include:
Exploration of what an individual finds distracting, soothing and helpful
Some persons will also benefit from seeking a psychiatric evaluation to determine if certain psychiatric medications will offer relief from their pain symptoms and address insomnia, anxiety and depression.
Do not despair if an illness or accident has changed your life. Continue to explore the things you can do to accept and manage the condition. You don’t have to let it define you. You can seek mental healthcare treatment to feel better, mentally and physically.
The Cleveland Clinic. Chronic Pain: Management and Treatment. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/4798-chronic-pain/management-and-treatment. Retrieved February 12th, 2018.
National Institute for Chronic Pain. Ideas that are chaning pain. https://www.instituteforchronicpain.org/understanding-chronic-pain/what-is-chronic-pain/chronic-pain-syndrome. Retrieved February 12th, 2018.