More than 100 million adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain. Chronic pain often not only affects the body but also the mind and emotions of a patient as well. These emotions have a big impact on how a patient finds chronic pain relief.
An individual who battles physical pain every day has many mental and emotional obstacles to overcome. For instance, people who suffer from chronic pain are more likely to suffer from depression. The frustration, anger, hopelessness, anxiety and sadness that accompany chronic pain can be too much for someone to handle, leaving them drained of energy and feeling defeated. Long-term pain can put stress on the brain and cause cognitive issues such as low mood, exhaustion, and concentration and memory difficulties, no matter what the underlying pain condition is.
Chronic pain and its psychological effects have the ability to reduce a patient’s quality of life. In some cases, the psychological effects of pain can outlive the physical pain itself and become the major health disorder. For instance, under-managed chronic pain may lead to:
- Increased stress
- Depressed mood
- Insomnia and exhaustion
- Decreased memory and concentration
A chronic pain management program should contain aspects that encourage a sound mental and emotional wellness component. Over time, cognitive strategies and lifestyle changes can improve the psychological effects of chronic pain. There are no easy solutions, but here are some simple treatment options that can help provide pain relief:
- Meditation and relaxation techniques can reduce muscle tension caused by pain.
- Regular physical activity, including strengthening and flexibility exercises, can improve pain threshold.
- Healthy eating can reduce painful symptoms such as inflammation. Research suggest that certain foods help reduce pain more than others.
- Staying socially active and keeping positive people around you can improve mental stability and decrease likeliness of depression and low mood.
These activities can improve psychological health, reduce stress, improve sleep and increase confidence, happiness and self-esteem. Pain relief isn’t just about treating physical ailments. In order to truly understand and alleviate the burden of chronic pain, the mind needs to be treated as well.