CBT for Chronic Pain - Know All About It!

Written by: Shruthi Chacko – M. Sc (Psychology)

Last updated date : February 27, 2023

Your body is sore and aching. You wish that this pain would just go away. Especially, at such as time, you do not want to hear people say ” You are just overthinking”. People with chronic pain experience severe pain and discomfort. It is said that people tend to overlook their concerns. In fact, chronic pain decreases one’s quality of living. It can further affect one’s mental well being too. Did you know
CBT for chronic pain can be helpful? You heard that correctly. Continue reading this article to know more about CBT for chronic pain and CBT for chronic pain worksheet.


Chapter 1:

Common Mistakes That People Suffering from Chronic Pain Do

There are a few common mistakes that people do when suffering from chronic fatigue. People often think about conventional ways to reduce the pain – by taking more rest, stopping exercising, stops being active. In fact, it does the opposite. When you reduce your physical movements and activities, your body loses flexibility. Gradually, your body loses to function at its optimum. This change can make you have negative thoughts about chronic pain. ” Will I ever get rid of this pain? or ” Absolutely nothing is helping with my pain”.

These types of negative thinking can affect different aspects of life too. Such repeated negative thoughts may cause anxiety and depression. This is where cognitive behavioural therapy can help the person.

Chapter 2:

How is CBT Used?

CBT is a very effective therapy for chronic pain. It is often used with other pain management therapies. It could be massage therapy, physiotherapy and also medications. Also, CBT has very little risk of side effects. Hence, it is a great treatment option. Did you know that CBT can change the physical response which reduces the pain in the brain? It’s really true. This pain can cause stress in the mind, which is due to the pain chemicals in the brain. In fact, CBT reduces the activity of these pain chemicals in the brain. Hence, it reduces the pain felt by the person.

CBT encourages is to educate the client. The clients should be made aware of their diagnosis and how it can help them out. It also helps people to know what triggers them and behaviours that make their pain worse. This awareness allows them to learn behaviours that will reduce their pain. The main goal of CBT is to learn how to manage and reduce chronic pain by changing their negative beliefs and thoughts.

Hence, CBT is used to help people who suffer from anxiety, depression and many other disorders.

Chapter 3:

Does CBT Help Everyone with Chronic Pain?

Applying CBT for pain take patience and lots of practice. It is not something that everyone might find beneficial or even feasible. Some people find it very time-consuming. If it is helpful for you, it is can be a great tool to manage pain. For example, CBT will help you identify automatic thoughts. When you start feeling pain, some automatic negative thoughts might come into your mind such as I will never stop feeling this pain, It will never go away. It is very natural and easy for our brain to give out such thoughts when we feel not great. In fact, this is where CBT can help you transform these thoughts into a much more hopeful one.

Hence, these hopeful thoughts could be I can get through this, I have surpassed this before, so can I now, I believe I can manage my pain. You can see how thoughts can play a very major role in how to perceive and manage pain. In fact, CBT for chronic pain worksheet can also help you.

Chapter 4:

Why Is CBT Better than Opioids?

As it was mentioned earlier. CBT may not be for everyone. You need to see it for yourself if it works out or not. A lot of people use opioids to reduce physical pain. In fact, what they do is blunt your senses to pain and reduce motivation gradually. Instead, it makes the person’s willpower become weaker. Additionally, these opioids come with various side effects- lack of energy, feeling tired, problems with sleep, lack of motivation etc.

This is where CBT can help the person battle chronic pain. It will help you identify the negative thoughts and change them to many positive ones. Also, CBT for chronic pain worksheet may help you. This will enable you to learn how to cope with your pain. CBT not only helps to relieve the physical pain, but it also helps people with essential tools that will help with their distress and the withdrawal with the use of Opioids. Also, it can help the person live without painkillers.

One of the reasons why people do not give up on opioids is because they are scared. They fear if they give up taking them, the pain will come back again or maybe even get worse than before. Hence, CBT gives them the courage to battle such thoughts and helps them cope with such thoughts.

Here are Some Shortcomings of CBT

  • CBT can be time consuming and quite costly compared to opioids, which are financially attractive.
  • CBT may not work out for every person suffering from chronic pain. Hence, it not always appropriate to completely leave out opioids. Sometimes, a person might need opioids along with CBT.
  • CBt takes time and practice. One needs to put in effort as well. To pratice the tools and consciously incorporating it into their lifestyle.

Chapter 5:

How Can CBT Techniques Help Your Chronic Pain?

  • You will learn how to relax your body. It will enable you to examine your body and your problems in a much objective manner. This includes, exercises that boost your awareness such as body scans and relaxed breathing methods.
  • You will learn how look at the negative moods that the chronic pain can get you through. This method is called cognitive restructuring, where you learn to identify, challenge and reconsider your thoughts and chaneh them into helpful and hopeful thoughts.
  • CBT helps people to question their fears and looks at the root cause of the issue. Once you know what is causing it, you can understand the reasons why you maybe feeling discomfort or pain. Hence, gradually, you will become less afraid of the pain.

At Espychonline, we have a self-help course on “Coping with Chronic Pain” to understand and learn how to cope with chronic pain. You may also find it informative and helpful to read up a bit more on “Chronic Pain and Fatigue: Coping Techniques” or you could read more on “How to Live Well with Chronic Pain” to have a better insight into chronic pain.

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