For many patients in pain, problems with their body tissues may well not be the main problem preventing them from feeling better again. This is particularly true as a pain condition becomes increasingly chronic. As well as having an overly sensitive and protective nervous system, these patients often display characteristic thoughts and beliefs that are not entirely accurate about their conditions and are, unfortunately, a significant barrier to getting better. They can enhance pain by encouraging the brain and nervous system to be more protective than it should be, often through a combination of fear of movement (kinesiophobia), general health anxiety and perceived lack of control, resulting in an increasingly negative and ‘catastrophic’ mindset (“I cannot see how this will ever get better”).
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and pain education, are absolutely vital parts of a lot of our patients recovery. Helping them to adopt more helpful thought processes, through a more accurate understanding of what is happening to them, really does significantly reduce pain and is part of the process of restoring normal function again. High quality research has shown this to be the case in a whole host of different chronic pain conditions such as low back pain. In some cases, pain education has been demonstrated to more than double the effectiveness of usual back pain treatments.
Clinical psychology forms a key part of our specialist Pain Management service long side medical treatment and specialist physiotherapy.