The Heavy Emotional Toll of Chronic Pain

Dealing with defining life changing factors impacts not only the physical body but it also impacts many areas of life, including; your relationships, how you feel emotionally, your activity level and ability, your thoughts, your self-esteem and even your financial situation

Pain is the body’s natural reaction to an injury or illness, usually it’s a warning that something is wrong. For some people, pain continues long after the injury or illness is gone. Pain that lasts for 3 to 6 months or more is called chronic pain. Unrelenting pain such as this that lasts months or even years takes a toll on a person’s emotional and physical health. Chronic pain can affect people of all ages and both sexes, but it’s most common in women and people with major depression and other mental health conditions seem to be more susceptible to chronic pain.

Nearly a quarter of the people diagnosed with chronic pain go on to develop emotional symptoms including depression and anxiety turning chronic pain into Chronic Pain Syndrome (CPS). Depending on the person and the reasons behind the pain, CPS can be hard to treat, but today there are some amazing treatments for chronic pain. Multi-discipline treatments including counseling, physical therapy, meditation and relaxation techniques have also been successful employed to help relieve pain.

Dealing with Chronic Pain

For physical pain, over-the-counter or prescription medication, physical therapy, and sometimes surgery may be part of a patient’s treatment plan. However, these options cover only the physical aspect of chronic pain. Mental and emotional wellness is equally important. By including psychological techniques and therapy the patient is able to build resilience and learn the necessary skills for management of chronic pain.

Managing chronic pain and coping with the symptoms can involves many disciplines and practices including physical and occupational therapy, medical management and psychological therapy. In addition, methods of alternative, complementary or integrative medicine may offer additional avenues for dealing with chronic pain. The Help Guide offers this list of possible treatment options for dealing with chronic pain:

Cold and heat. Cold can be useful soon after an injury to relieve pain, decrease inflammation and muscle spasms, and help speed recovery. Heat raises your pain threshold and relaxes muscles.

Exercise. Staying physically active, despite some pain, can play a helpful role for people with some of the more common pain conditions, including low back pain, arthritis, and fibromyalgia.

Weight loss. Many painful health conditions are worsened by excess weight. It makes sense, then, that losing weight can help to relieve some kinds of pain.

Physical therapy (PT) and occupational therapy (OT). PT helps to restore or maintain your ability to move and walk. OT helps improve your ability to perform activities of daily living, such as dressing, bathing, and eating.

Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). This technique employs a very mild electrical current to block pain signals going from the body to the brain.

Iontophoresis. This form of electrical stimulation is used to drive medications into areas of pain and reduce inflammation.

Ultrasound. This therapy directs sound waves into tissue. It is sometimes used to improve blood circulation, decrease inflammation, and promote healing.

Cold laser therapy. Cold laser therapy, also called low-level laser therapy, is FDA-approved to treat pain conditions. The cold laser emits pure light of a single wavelength that is absorbed into an injured area and may reduce inflammation and stimulate tissue repair.

Emotional Pain

Chronic pain is physically and psychologically stressful and its constant discomfort can lead to feelings of anger and frustration. While the medical community may be able to provide treatment for the physical aspects of chronic pain, psychologists are uniquely trained to help manage the mental and emotional aspects of this often debilitating condition and can offer many avenues for pain relief and management. Counselors can help to re-frame negative thinking patterns about pain that may be interfering with normal daily functions such as work, and relationships.

If you are having trouble with accepting or adjusting to life’s challenges, Dr. Holland can help you find healthy ways of coping.

Dr. Holland brings to people with disabilities a unique understanding about what it takes to live joyfully within your own limits. Dealing with defining life changing factors impacts not only the physical body but it also impacts many areas of life, including; your relationships, how you feel emotionally, your activity level and ability, your thoughts, your self-esteem and even your financial situation. All of these challenges can leave a person feeling alone and hopeless. Dr. Holland will gently guide you to becoming your healthiest possible self by working within your own limitations. Under her counsel, clients are able to feel empowered to live a more fulfilling life.

Contact Dr. Holland to learn more, and to reserve an appointment at 707-479-2946.

Article Sources:

Chronic Pain Syndrome —

Half of adults with anxiety or depression report chronic pain –

Coping with a Life-Threatening Illness or Serious Health Event –