Treating the psychological aspects of chronic pain
People with chronic pain typically face a wide range of stresses. As pain persists, they may feel more and more depressed, anxious and isolated.
Our behavioral health staff is a team of licensed psychologists, counselors (including a licensed alcohol and drug counselor), and therapists who fully understand the psychological impact of chronic pain. We start by evaluating the patient as a multidisciplinary team in order to map out a plan of care, which may also include medication management, interventional procedures and physical therapy.
Once a plan of care has been created, our behavioral health staff will work closely with our physical therapists and interventional pain physician specialists, using individual therapy to help patients effectively manage the psychological and emotional components of their chronic pain.
For patients on opioid medication, Nura’s Chronic Pain Program is a widely respected multidisciplinary treatment program with a proven track record of success. View Medication Management: Our COMP and COMPASS Programs
Role of psychology in treating chronic pain – targeting the unconscious brain
Research has shown that chronic pain itself is influenced by the thoughts, attitudes and behaviors of the person experiencing it. These behaviors take place in the frontal lobes, which comprise of 12% of our brain mass.
We do not use the remaining 88% to think — at least not consciously. Yet, that 88% contributes to the pain we feel, according to our team at Nura. And while we cannot think our pain away, we can use psychological strategies and techniques to target the unconscious brain structure in order to affect the pain.
Our staff identifies the patient’s psychological, emotional, and behavioral barriers, and then works with the patient to develop an action plan to achieve their personal goals. In order to do this, we provide our patients with coping mechanisms and other techniques to manage their pain including relaxation, breathing, distraction, biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy, identifying negative thought patterns and reframing thoughts, acceptance and commitment (therapy), and Eye-Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (EMDR). These strategies can help quiet the signal between the brain and chronic pain.
Chronic pain is complex – our patients have a wide range of medical conditions and personal stories. When it comes to treating chronic pain, our behavioral health team believes in not only teaching our patients how things work, but why they work.