The Psychological and Emotional Impacts of Chronic Pain

stomach pain
Stomach pain - Photo by: James Palinsad - Source: Flickr Creative Commons

Healthcare professionals look after people in pain on a daily basis. They often see people with acute pain that was caused by a recent surgical procedure or ailment, as well as sufferers of chronic pain from old injuries. Chronic pain can be extremely difficult to treat because it continues after the expected healing time. There are numerous procedures and therapies that work to reduce the pain, but they can’t cure it. Due to the nature of chronic pain, it can lead to people feeling worried about their future. Challenges that health professionals face when they can’t cure a patient are usually caused by this chronic pain.

Chronic pain causes our nervous system to change and it will often get worse over time. This can lead to significant cognitive or psychological challenges. Carry on reading about the psychological and emotional impacts of chronic pain below:

Negative Feelings Increase

Chronic pain can play a huge role in every area of a patient’s life including:

  • Their relationships
  • Their ability to take part in activities
  • Employment

Any condition that has this amount of impact on a person’s life can lead to them to experience negative feelings. Doctors are becoming more aware of the emotional and psychological impacts chronic pain has on a person. Many people are scared about being seen in a negative way, they might also experience mental defeat and feel guilty or experience shame. These feelings can lead to a person becoming anxious or depressed.

Chronic Pain and Depression

Chronic pain is strongly linked to a person suffering from depression and even though this has been recognized, it is often not diagnosed or treated. This can lead to patients having exaggerated symptoms including:

  • Suffering from more pain
  • Losing some of their functional abilities

It’s important that doctors notice signs of depression quickly in order to help the patient.  

Pain Catastrophising

Pain catastrophizing is when the patient’s symptoms are magnified, which leads to an increased sense of helplessness, higher levels of depression, anxiety and functional loss. This can occur when negative feeling such as anxiety are present. Pain catastrophizing can also lead to the patient showing avoidance behavior, which can lead to disuse, increased levels of disability, and depression.

After a period of time, the patient will start avoiding things because the pain has increased to an extent where they believe they can no longer participate in the activity. This has an impact on the care provided, as a person who catastrophizes their pain will often not want to follow certain parts of a treatment plan. In cases like this, cognitive behavioral therapy needs to be suggested before treatment to try and help the patient change the way they think.

Social Stigma

There is a great deal of stigma attached to chronic pain. This is related to the idea that the person isn’t strong enough to be able to deal with the amount of pain they’re in. This leads to people believing that the person should be able to do more than they can. Stigma can also stop people from getting help because they worry about being seen as a failure. This vicious cycle of shame, worthlessness, and guilt is then repeated. Most health care practitioners are aware of the stigmas surrounding chronic pain and try to work with the individual in order to overcome the negative attitudes towards their condition.

Healthcare Professionals and Chronic Pain

Lots of people suffering from chronic pain are treated poorly by professionals. This can be due to inaccurate attitudes and beliefs or inadequate training. Professionals may estimate the amount of pain a patient is suffering or be biased about their level of pain. Individuals need to be analyzed critically and the professionals need to consider if there are any barriers in place.

To help the patient east their pain and reduce the chances of any other negative effects, you first need to help control the patients’ pain. Professionals also need to talk to the patient about whether they have any emotional or psychological concerns. Chronic pain can have an impact on all areas of a person’s life, so healthcare plans need to be altered to reflect this.

Helping Someone with Chronic Pain

Chronic pain can have a huge impact on the lives of the patient and their family. If you know someone who is suffering from chronic pain, then it’s a good idea to get them some help. There are lots of health professionals who are willing to help you, such as:

  • General practitioners
  • Osteopaths
  • Chiropractors
  • Physical therapists
  • Body therapists

Many people who suffer from chronic pain find that the pain is located in their back. If this is the case, a chiropractor might be the right choice for you. You can visit De La Cruz Chiropractic who are experienced spine health specialists with a range of resources and service options for you to browse through on their site. Situated in Aurora, Illinois they could help you reduce or get rid of your pain. Experts can work with you to make a plan that is tailored for you and your body.

Chronic pain can have a huge psychological and emotional impact on your life. Learning to cope with the pain and finding ways to reduce it is a brilliant idea. Make sure you work with your family and the health care professionals to look out for any warning signs that you are struggling with your psychological or emotional health.

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