Chronic Pain and Beliefs


Pain

Your experience of Chronic Pain is not just about the physical sensations. There are many psychological aspects to pain including what you think about pain, and how you think about it – which I mentioned in my blog – Pain and the Power of Words https://yorkmindmakeover.wordpress.com/2016/08/17/pain-and-the-power-of-words/

The psychological aspect to your experience of pain is based on your own beliefs – the meaning you give to pain.

  • Control

Do you believe you can control your experience of pain and manage how it affects your life? I use hypnotherapy to show people how they can learn to manage their own pain experience and gain control over it using self-hypnosis techniques. This gives you the power to change your perception of pain, lower the intensity of pain and lessen distress and depressive thinking

  • Acceptance

Helping people to explore their pain using mindfulness techniques is the first step in accepting that pain is only one component of your experience. Pain sensations are transient and can change. It is still possible to lead a satisfying life, and practising pain reduction is helpful but not necessarily central to this

  • Disability

When people believe they are disabled by pain they will necessarily behave that way. You need not be disabled by pain. Activity can reduce the experience of some pain (i.e. pain stimulated by physical damage) – despite common thinking that it will make the experience worse. For example, weak muscles are more likely to spasm so limiting activity only makes pain worse long term. Exercise to lengthen and strengthen muscles can stop pain getting worse

  • Fear of Harm

It seems common sense to believe that pain is a signal of physical damage so activity should be limited or avoided altogether. However, when pain becomes chronic, the intensity loses its association with the amount of physical damage. Gentle exercise such as stretching is in fact beneficial rather than causing harm

As you can see, your beliefs about pain guide your behaviour and therefore impact on your long-term health. Your beliefs will determine the strategies you use to cope. Maladaptive coping strategies include guarding yourself, resting and constantly asking for assistance to do things, believing these behaviours will help you avoid further possible harm. This limits your life and can lead to distress, withdrawal from society, anxiety and depression.

Adaptive coping strategies are the answer – including pacing yourself so you never get overwhelmed by pain, learning how to gain control over your perception of pain, learning ways of coping when pain flares, and encouraging regular gentle activity to encourage mobility.

Do you recognise any of your own beliefs about pain? Would you benefit from shifting your thinking?

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist, Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapy practitioner based in York. You can find out more about my work and how I can help you at: www.mindmakeoveruk.com

 

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Pain and the Power of Words

Pain and the Power of Words


Chronic Pain

I’ve been working recently with people who suffer with chronic pain. Working together over several sessions we have experienced success in reducing the perception of pain and alleviating the suffering, as well as formulating new habits such as pacing so that the problem never reaches the point of overwhelm and is manageable.

What struck me about working with these people are the stories they tell about themselves and their pain experiences. They seem to have one thing in common – a person in authority in the medical profession has told them that the pain will always be there, it is something they have to live with and it will probably never go away. They can take medication but this in itself has unpleasant side effects, particularly when the dose needs increasing over months or years as they become tolerant to it. Again, they have been told that this is inevitable.

As a hypnotherapist I am very aware of the power of words. Let’s step back and think about the effect of these negative, disempowering messages. Set them in the medical context, delivered by an expert  – who has the patient’s full focussed attention, and it’s not difficult to see how these words have mesmerised them and affected the beliefs they now have about the pain. Negative hypnosis in action!

Did you realise that pain is not just about physical sensations? There are many psychological aspects to pain. What you think about pain, and how you think about it, has a huge effect on your experience. Catastrophising is common and is a consistent predictor of the level of pain and suffering experienced. When someone thinks that they cannot learn to manage pain themselves and are stuck with it, and then is constantly focussed on that pain and ruminates on that negative experience, it is no surprise that they experience higher levels of pain, possibly depression, anxiety, distress and even disability.

When people learn to use adaptive coping strategies rather than only relying on the doctor, hospital specialist or science itself to make them feel better, huge improvements can be experienced in terms of the intensity of pain, physiological functioning and activity levels. This can be done with the right professional help.

I am Susan Tibbett, a Chartered Psychologist, Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapy practitioner based in York. You can find out more about my work and how I can help you at: http://www.mindmakeoveruk.com