What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Chronic Pain?

cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic pain

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Did you know that pain is the number one reason Americans access the health care system? Chronic pain, which is pain that persists on most days for at least three months, is the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States, affecting 50 million adults. Twenty million adults experience high-impact chronic pain, limiting their ability to participate in life or perform work activities. 

Millions of Americans are prescribed opioids to relieve chronic pain. Unfortunately, long-term opioid use can have serious consequences, including overdose and addiction. The adverse effects associated with opioid use increase the longer a person takes opioids. For this reason, many patients and providers are seeking alternative methods to manage pain. Research suggests that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) may be an effective tool for those struggling with persistent pain. 

What is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy?

CBT is a time-limited psychotherapeutic approach that has can improve various mental and behavioral conditions. CBT for chronic pain uses a structured approach to target a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors associated with pain. This form of therapy encourages patients to adopt an active, problem-solving approach when coping with pain-related challenges.

Cognitive refers to the thoughts, feelings, and expectations associated with their pain. It also looks at the factors that affect a person’s ability to manage their pain effectively. By altering how a person thinks about their pain, CBT can help those affected gain a sense of control of their lives while simultaneously improving their overall mood and sense of well-being. 

The behavioral part aims to help those suffering from chronic pain develop skills to respond to pain adaptively. Through behavioral experiences, those living with pain can learn that they can do more than they previously believed. In turn, these practices can help them reengage in enjoyable activities they once avoided. 

The main objectives of using CBT for pain include:

  • Reduce the negative impact pain has on daily life
  • Improve physical and emotional functioning
  • Increase effective coping skills when managing pain
  • Reduce the intensity of pain

Although CBT for pain may not always be able to eliminate or reduce pain as much as a person would like, it may be able to alleviate some of the suffering associated with pain.

Treating Chronic Pain

Chronic pain can be difficult, especially in cases where the cause is not known.  When left untreated, pain can have devastating effects on a person’s overall health and well-being, and it can even lead to mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.

By focusing on non-addictive pain management therapies, Vivera can do its part to try to help those in pain get the care they need.

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