It’s not uncommon to exclaim, at the beginning of a pain flare, “I’m not going to be able to stand it!” Another might express, “Now, I’m not going to be able to do anything today!” Yet, another takes it as a given that the increased pain is an indicator that the underlying health problem is getting worse. From this assumption, it’s easy to start thinking about how the future holds nothing but increasing disability, wheelchairs, and suffering.
These sentiments are examples of catastrophizing.
“Why do you guys always want to know how much stress I have?” While the patient who asked this question the other day had fibromyalgia, she could have had chronic low back or neck pain, chronic daily headaches, complex regional pain syndrome, or any other chronic pain condition. She was expressing a sentiment that I often hear in one form or another.
The Institute for Chronic Pain website has a new article on the social stigma of chronic pain. It explains the nature of social stigma and challenges both providers and patients to take the difficult steps to overcome it.
If it challenges and inspires you, please share it with your network.
Click here to read it.
Author: Murray J. McAllister, PsyD
Date of last modification: 10-26-2013
Insomnia is common among people with chronic pain. It's also problematic. It typically makes your pain worse and saps your abilities to cope. Understanding and overcoming insomnia is therefore important to successfully self-manage chronic pain.
The Institute for Chronic Pain celebrates this month its one-year anniversary of going live with our website and blog. The Institute for Chronic Pain is an educational and public policy 'think tank' devoted to changing the culture of how chronic pain is managed. We imagine a day when the management of chronic pain is guided by the principles of empirical-based healthcare (i.e., pursuing only those treatments that research has shown to be effective). Our public face is our website and blog, where we provide academic-quality information that is accessible to patients, their families, as well as providers and third-party payers.
September is Pain Awareness Month! It is a special month for us at the Institute for Chronic Pain (ICP). The theme of the month is one of the central goals of our mission. Specifically, our mission is to change the culture of how chronic pain is treated by promoting the theory and practice of chronic pain rehabilitation.
At first thought, it might seem crazy to accept that your pain is chronic. When I bring it up with patients, many of them tell me, not without irritation in their voice, “I’ll never give up hope of finding someone who can fix me!” Indeed, it’s common to think that accepting the chronicity of your pain is the same thing as giving up hope that you’ll ever get better.
Half jokingly, patients with chronic pain can sometimes start to wonder whether they are coming down with Alzheimer’s. They don’t seem to remember anything anymore. Besides memory problems, it can be hard to concentrate, multi-task, and find the right word to use – that experience when the word you want to use is “on the tip of your tongue.” People with fibromyalgia have even given these problems a nickname – “fibro fog” – as in when your head is in the clouds.
In the last post, we addressed the question, “Why see a psychologist for pain?” The answer is that psychologists are the experts in teaching patients how to self-manage and cope with chronic pain. Patients who see psychologists for chronic pain can learn to self-manage and cope with pain so well that they can largely come to live a normal life despite having chronic pain.
Patients can sometimes question why their physicians want them to see a psychologist for pain. The concern, of course, is that they are going to get stigmatized. They might wonder, “Doesn't my doctor not believe me?” or “Do they think it’s all in my head?” This reaction can often prevent patients with chronic pain from seeking the care of a psychologist. It is, however, unfortunate. Among all healthcare providers who specialize in the treatment of chronic pain, psychologists provide some of the most effective therapies.
In the last post, we started a discussion about how people cope with chronic pain really well. Specifically, we looked at five attributes and skills that people do when coping well with chronic pain. The point of the discussion was that it is a way to learn how to cope better. Coping with chronic pain is a set of skills like any other set of skills and you learn how to cope with pain just like you learn other skills – like learning how to knit or play the piano or play tennis.