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An Introduction to Chronic Pain


What is chronic pain?

In most cases when we think about pain we know that it is likely temporary such as a broken bone, cut, or bruise and the limitations imposed on you by the injury are short-lived. Chronic pain however, can be significantly more complex.

It is classified when the pain typically persists for more than 3 months. Chronic pain may sometimes be a standalone diagnosis, but is often present as a symptom in other disorders such as Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis and other chronic conditions. In general chronic pain is only considered in physical terms however, also thinking about the psychological aspects can be beneficial for people living with chronic pain.


Impact of chronic pain

When we experience pain, both our mind and bodies are put under stress. When the pain is short lived, so is the stress. However, when the pain is long-term the stress can also be enduring. In the case of chronic back pain, a person may need to adapt their life in several ways. When the pain an individual experiences is enduring and impacts their physical activity, such as arthritis for example, it can cause them to shy away from certain activities or change their routine for fear of experiencing more pain or worsening an injury.


The cycle of chronic pain

Individuals may also believe that their efficacy in certain roles e.g. as a parent or worker is diminished therefore leaving them feeling incapable in their day to day lives. Furthermore, these experiences can fuel emotions such as anger and sadness thus leading to withdrawal behaviours. All of these factors can perpetuate the cycle thus worsening the individual’s management and experience of chronic pain.


Benefits of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)


Modern research has highlighted the need to address more than just the biological/physical side of chronic pain, as each case is often quite complex. Our next blog will focus on how psychological therapies, such as CBT, can be beneficial to those suffering with mood issues and living with chronic pain. If you are interested in finding out more about our CBT based online programmes for Chronic Pain please do drop us an email.  

Author: Daniel Duffy, Clinical Trials Associate, SilverCloud Health. 

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