Pain psychology is an exciting area of study that looks at how the brain comes to understand and rationalize pain. Pain is a complex experience for many patients and can range from being mildly annoying to completely debilitating. Understanding pain requires an integrated view of the brain, physical pain and psychological pain. Pain is often thought of as a normal part of a person's life and not a disorder. Fortunately, there are treatments that can help people with pain manage it and live productive lives.
Pain psychology is an interdisciplinary field that studies the pain as it relates to the human brain and the causes of pain. It includes the application of psychological methods for pain control, which consist of behavioral techniques such as meditation or guided imagery and traditional medical therapies such as pharmacological and neuropathic pain management. Pain is typically measured using standardized questionnaires that ask about physical, emotional and mental pain as well as medication use over time. The goal of pain psychology is to provide effective pain management and reduction.
The application of psychological methods for pain control begins with the assessment of the pain and its potential sources. This includes history and personality questions to identify risk factors; evaluate current conditions; and compare patients' experiences with those of peers and others in the same situation. Psychological assessment also includes investigating the relationship between pain and other emotions (such as anxiety and depression) and cognitive processes (such as thought patterns and memory). This information is important in developing a plan of treatment that will meet the needs of each patient.
The process of pain management often relies on cognitive processes alone. Cognitive pain management approaches are based on a variety of considerations including knowledge management, expectation management, avoidance conditioning, goal management, and scaffolding techniques. Additionally, medication used for pain management may be combined with psychotherapy and/or physical therapy for optimal outcomes. Some pain management specialists work closely with patients who have opted out of drugs and/or surgery.
The primary goal of pain management is to provide effective pain control by addressing possible psychological or environmental factors that may be triggering pain. Pain can be painful to the patient and others around him or her, making it difficult for the patient to focus, therefore creating additional stress. The goal of pain management is to ensure that the patient's recovery is as comfortable as possible.
Pain management involves evaluating the risks associated with the potential pain sources and attempting to eliminate or mitigate these risks. The ultimate goal of pain management is to provide pain patients and their families an opportunity to live a more . . . . . . normal life free from pain and associated feelings. A thorough assessment by a professional pain management team will help determine the best course of action in meeting the needs of your pain patient.