Pain is not all in your head, but seeing a psychologist to learn coping mechanisms may make life better for people with chronic pain.
According to lecturers at the Pain in Europe VII conference, the attitude that pain sufferers have while treating or living with their pain can have a profound effect on their overall quality of life.
Speakers at the conference touted "psychological interventions can alleviate chronic pain, improve patients' quality of life and prevent a spiral of ever-increasing disability," according to Medical News Today.
The basic concept is that the patient's attitude toward their pain can help to overcome related issues such as depression and therefore prevent the sedentary and isolationist lifestyles that come with chronic pain. In short, people apply the same reactions to chronic pain as they do to acute pain and stop doing things.
However, doctors need to realize that chronic pain is not simply in the patient's head and something to be ignored. Instead, speaker Christopher Eccleston from Bath, U.K., argued that educating patients about the role their mental reaction to pain has in furthering their disabilities can help people to seek alternative therapies including psychological assistance.
The conference is a part of a multidisciplinary professional organization in pain research and medicine. It consists of the 35 chapters of the International Association for the Study of Pain, which are the IASP approved official National Pain Societies in each country.
In addition to presenting empirical evidence that psychological counseling can help battle chronic pain, presenters at the conference argued that traditional gender roles also still play a role in pain reporting and subsequently in pain management. Dr. Oras A. Alabas reported, "Measuring 'gender role expectations of pain', they detected a higher score for women compared to men in pain sensitivity and willingness to report pain, but a lower score for women in pain endurance. This led to the conclusion that women in many parts of the world complain more about pain and are more sensitive to pain than men."
Ultimately, several presenters at the conference argued that trying to have one pain management plan for both sexes was inappropriate.
Lucinda Gunnin cut her teeth as a reporter covering Illinois news as an intern in the statehouse pressroom. She now brings 20 years experience and insight to covering the issues.