Psychological Approaches to Chronic Pain

Psychological approaches are best for chronic pain where a specific physical cause has not been identified or, when it has, is used in conjunction with a sensible course of medical treatment. The strategies used generally fall into four categories, with plenty of room for overlap and the use of more than one technique at a time.

These categories are: relaxation, imagery, hypnosis, and biofeedback. Though it is best to seek the advice of experts to ascertain what, or what combination, is best for you, below are examples of some things you can do on your own in the effort to cope with chronic back pain.

1. Splitting: Separate your experience of pain from the pain itself. If the pain is throbbing, for example, focus on the throb and not the hurt. Another variation is to separate the painful body part (your back) from the rest of your body.

2.Numbing: Imagine an injection of a powerful medicine that numbs the area of your back that hurts.

3.Projection: Imagine yourself at a time in the past or future where you are free of pain. A pain-free location, like a favorite vacation spot, may also work.

4.Movement: Visualize the pain moving from your back to another area of the body where it is easier to handle. An alternative is to imagine it leaving your body and taking up residence somewhere else, like the ground.

Be aware that psychological approaches are particularly helpful when stress is suspected as the culprit in your experience of chronic back pain. Our daily lives are constantly subject to stress, be it from work, relationships, or simply new and different experiences.

People react to stress in different ways. Some individuals feel tired, others get upset stomachs, and many of us show our tension in the form of back pain. Instead of a psychological technique that focuses on pain management, then, a more sensible approach could be the identification and treatment of the factors that cause you to experience stress.