Chronic Pain Management

What is Chronic Pain?

Pain is defined as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience most often associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage (International  Association for the Study of Pain).  Pain persisting for more than 12 weeks is considered chronic pain.

What are some of the effects of Chronic Pain?

Chronic Pain has negative consequences for the patient such as

  • unnecessary suffering,
  • muscle catabolic condition as tissue breaks down and activity causes damage to cells that later need repair,
  • decreased response to curative medical or surgical treatment with higher complication rates, and
  • emotional and social disturbances.

In some circumstances patients with unrelieved pain die sooner.  Emotionally, untreated Chronic Pain impacts negatively the person’s life by causing (among others)

  • anger,
  • anxiety,
  • depression,
  • loss of appetite,
  • difficulty sleeping, and
  • impaired personal relationships.
What is the purpose of treatment for Chronic Pain?

Although pharmacologic approaches are important in the treatment of Chronic Pain, relying on medicine alone can be ineffective and frustrating.  Optimal pain management comprises various non-pharmacologic therapies, including a psychological approach with client-centered and cognitive-behavioral (CBT) therapies.  The purpose of strategies taught to the patient is to lessen pain intensity, improve coping, increase function, and reduce overall disability.  Some strategies applied with the biopsychosocial model include

  • education,
  • training in cognitive therapies such as biofeedback, relaxation, and imagery, plus
  • specific behavioral treatments such as pacing, time management, and sleep hygiene.
What are the client benefits of biopsychosocial model treatment?
  • Return to work
  • Reduced pain levels
  • Improved mood
  • Decreased health care utilization
  • Increased function
  • Increased quality of life