Chronic pain is a nerve condition that can follow surgery or injury, and is also associated with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. It can last for days, months or years and even if the patient spends millions on pain-managing prescription drugs, sometimes the pain stubborns to linger long after the immediate, or acute, pain-causing stimulus has receded.
Researchers at the Center for Brain Research of the Medical University of Vienna have found that a very high dose of an opiate drug that uses the same painkilling pathways as morphine can reset the nerve signals associated with continuous pain in rats. The method hasn’t yet been confirmed in humans, but if it does, it will bring a lot of relief and money saving opportunities to those who are addicted to painkillers for their chronic pain. However, opiates such as morphine and heroin remain the leaders in pain relief, but they work only temporarily and also have serious side effects such as overdose, addiction, sedation, poor quality of life and health complications. So what if there’s another way to get rid of the chronic pain without drug treatments? In fact, there is. Scientists confirmed a new technology in dealing with chronic pain to the detriment of recommended pharmacological therapy (pregabalin and duloxetine).
According to a randomized controlled trial performed in Spain, the new method called CBT or “cognitive behavior therapy” (group sessions comprising cognitive restructuring and coping strategies) is more effective than drugs, having three main parts. In the first part, patients are helped to understand that cognition and behavior can affect the pain experience and that they can play a major role in controlling their own pain. In the second part the patients have to cope with a skills training provided in wide variety of cognitive and behavioral pain coping strategies. The patients learn to divert attention away from severe pain episodes by participating in positive and rewarding activities, identifying unhelpful patterns of thinking and negative thoughts and replacing them with more constructive, more adaptive and more coping ways of thinking. They also learn how to fight their anxiety and depression because many of the patients suffering from chronic pains tend to avoid activities because of fears, anxiety or depression and depression, which are known to worsen the pain. And since fatigue worsens pain. the patients learn how to solve their sleeping disorders such as insomnia, to relax by counting methods and use of a focal point, deep breathing, meditation or even biofeedback. The third part is based on practice and diet changes. Now, the patients have to examine the diet, make changes if necessary and exercise what they have learnt so far. They are encouraged to apply their coping skills to a progressively wider range of daily situations, to analyze and develop plans for dealing with pain.
Therefore, CBT is a new short term therapy that can last as few as eight to 10 sessions, being carried out in small group sessions of 4 to 8 patients that are held weekly for 8 to 10 weeks and it’s main goal is not only to reduce pain but also to reduce stress, improve sleep and manage anxiety. The trainer is always a psychologist or psychologist-nurse so patients can rely on him for counseling. Because the perception of pain is in your brain and you can affect the physical pain by addressing thoughts and behaviours that fuel it, the method is also very effective in treating people with body wide pain, such as patients suffering from fibromyalgia, backache, headache, lumbar pain. So, if you’re one of those patients who struggle with pain despite drug intake, ask your health care provider for names of therapists who have experience in using CBT for chronic pain management.