Cognitive Behavioral Therapy A Treatment Option For Chronic Pain

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Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is, according to a Journal of Psychiatric Practice article, an effective alternative to opioids for the relief of non-cancer pain.

Although opioids are marketed as powerful painkillers, the severity of pain reported by Americans has changed little during the past decade.

“There is no evidence that supports the use of opioids for the treatment of chronic pain for more than one year, and chronic use increases the serious risks of misuse, abuse, addiction, overdose, and death,” write Drs. Muhammad Hassan Majeed of Natchaug Hospital, Mansfield Center, Conn., and Donna M. Sudak of Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia.

The article’s authors believe CBT is effective for chronic pain relief because it helps people change how they think about and deal with discomfort. CBT teaches patients to view pain as a stressor they can adapt to, and manage with various coping strategies.

“Therapy helps the patient see that emotional and psychological factors influence perception of pain and behaviors that are associated with having pain,” Drs. Majeed and Sudak write.

Coping strategies might include interesting activities, relaxation techniques, and guided exercises taught by an understanding and validating therapist. The goal of the interventions is reducing pain intensity, and improving quality of life, including physical and emotional functioning.

Several studies and review articles were cited by the authors showing that CBT helps with pain control and the perception of painful stimuli. It is moderately effective in diminishing patient pain scores without the overuse, overdose, and death risks associated with opioids. CBT might be used as a stand-alone therapy, or in tandem with other treatments.

Despite its benefits, CBT is underused owed to factors such as unfamiliarity, patient demands, and ease of prescribing drugs. “There is a need for a paradigm shift from a biomedical to a biopsychosocial model for effective pain treatment and prevention of opioid use disorder,” said Dr. Majeed.

Source: Science Daily
Photo credit: Fox Valley Institute


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