August 2017 Newsletter
Happy August! Inspired by a talk on working together to manage chronic pain conditions by Rachel Bilgrei, PsyD., we opted to focus on our holistic approaches to healing and managing chronic pain in our clients:
Be it back pain, headaches, joint pain, or fibromyalgia, chronic pain persists with seemingly no end in sight. Initially, pain serves an important purpose by alerting you to physical injuries. Chronic pain, however, is often more complex. People often think of pain as a purely physical sensation. However, pain has biological, psychological and emotional factors. Furthermore, chronic pain can cause feelings such as anger, hopelessness, sadness and anxiety. To treat pain from an injury/condition effectively, you must address the physical, emotional and psychological aspects-otherwise it can be harder to heal, thus negatively impacting quality of life.
A major problem we see is that most clients experiencing chronic pain are only given a singular "bio-medical" approach to managing their pain: medications, shots, interventional procedures, physical therapy etc. Indeed, this is an important component, but only addresses 1/3 of the problem. We at DSPT believe two other areas must be addressed: (1) Identifying and managing the psychological/emotional symptoms of chronic pain; and (2) Helping chronic pain patients develop proactive nonpharmacological interventions (e.g. meditation, mindfulness, acupuncture, yoga, active and social lifestyle). Ultimately, our collaboration with other health and healing practitioners (acupuncturists, psychologists, fitness and meditation instructors, etc) is likely to enhance our treatment approaches and your outcomes.
Here are several tips for coping with persisting pain, courtesy of Rachel Bilgrei, PsyD. and us here at DSPT:
- Stay active. Pain - or the fear of pain - can lead people to stop doing the things they enjoy. It's important not to let pain take over your life.
- Know your limits. Continue to be active in a way that acknowledges your physical limitations. Make a plan about how to manage your pain, and don't push yourself to do more than you can handle.
- Exercise. Stay healthy and physically fit with low-impact exercise. Engaging in regular physical activity not only improves pain, but the anxiety and depression that often accompany and can exacerbate it.
- Make social connections. Research shows that people with greater social support are more resilient and experience less depression and anxiety. Ask for help when you need it.
- Distract yourself. When pain flares, find ways to distract your mind from it. Pleasant experiences can help you cope by harnessing the individual's ability to learn to regulate the body's "fight or flight" response, that tends to increase pain.
- Don't lose hope. With the right kind of psychological treatments, many people learn to manage their pain and think of it in a different way.
- Follow prescriptions and/or clinician recommendations carefully.. In addition to helping you develop better ways to cope with and manage pain, psychologists/PTs/Acupuncturists/MDs can help you develop a routine to stay on track with your treatment.
We at DSPT are here to help you on your journey toward healing your whole self, mind and body. Give us a call to see what we and our network of health care providers can do for you!