Chronic pain, also known as the invisible illness, and its symptoms are not always obvious or externally visible. As a result, it is important for healthcare professionals to promote patients’ awareness of pain by listening to the breadth and intensity of symptoms, the contexts or situations when symptoms are exacerbated and the strategies that have worked to relieve or lessen the pain. It is very common for chronic pain to lead to other problems like insomnia, anxiety or depression. While chronic pain is often caused by something physiological, it can frequently be lessened or alleviated through non-pharmacological interventions including biofeedback, psychotherapy, behavioral medicine and stress management techniques. The ability to understand and listen to one’s body is important. Biofeedback can help patients become acutely aware of their bodies and learn how to naturally lower blood pressure, slow respiration, regulate heartrate and change neurological functioning.
The mind and the body are connected; chronic pain and medical illness impacts not only our physical functioning, but can also affect our social, family, emotional, vocational, and financial wellbeing. If these aspects of an individual’s life are not held in mind by the healthcare professional, then the patient may suffer in darkness, without a plan or hope, cut off from the world, and may even blame themselves for what is going on around them.
The Clinic’s coordinated team of providers addresses chronic pain directly while holding in mind the full person. Our clinicians know that physical pain can impact individuals on many levels and that those in physical or emotional pain often become isolated, sometimes unable to work or take care of their family, due to their impairments. The less an individual can enjoy the life they once had, the more likely they are to stay at home alone, which can lead to higher incidences of depression and worsening pain. Çhronic pain and serious medical problems can contribute to feelings of helplessness, anxiety, hopelessness and low self-esteem. It is important for patients and their providers not to minimize the potential emotional and psychological consequences of coping with a chronic medical condition.
Psychoeducation is a huge first step in helping patients understand factors contributing to their pain and to eventually recognizing how the choices they make impact how they feel (i.e. nutrition, body mechanics, relationships, relaxation, and moderation). Biofeedback is an invaluable tool that allows patients to monitor their progress in treatment.
At The Clinic, each provider is a member of a multidisciplinary pain-management team, providing treatment to patients who suffer from a diverse range of disorders including: fibromyalgia; cancer; rheumatoid arthritis; spinal and sports injuries; nerve, muscle, and joint pain; back pain, headaches & migraines; lupus; pelvic pain; reflex sympathetic dystrophy; radiculopathy; and more.
When we all work together, everyone wins. The providers at The Clinic will help advocate for you, connect and coordinate all members of your treatment team, work to reduce your pain and, most importantly, support you in reclaiming your life!
Author: Dr. Sarah Dihmes