Managing Chronic Pain: How Therapy Can Help

Research shows that approximately 1 in 5 American adults have chronic pain. In mild cases, chronic pain causes distress and physical discomfort. But in more serious cases, it can affect every area of your functioning and compromise your quality of life. 

Managing your chronic pain may seem overwhelming. But seeking professional support can help. Therapy doesn’t cure the issue, but it can offer reassurance and skills to help you feel better.

What Is Chronic Pain? 

Chronic pain refers to persistent pain that lasts for at least three months. The pain can fluctuate, meaning it can feel worse some days (or hours) than others.

Unlike acute pain, chronic pain continues even after recovering from a specific injury or illness. With some conditions, like autoimmune diseases or psychosomatic pain, the pain happens for no apparent reason.

While types of pain vary, common sensations include:

  • aching
  • throbbing
  • burning
  • shooting
  • stiffness
  • stinging

Chronic pain can be challenging to diagnose. Your healthcare provider might use blood tests, imaging exams, nerve conduction studies, or urine analyses to rule out other conditions.

What Is The Intersection of Chronic Pain and Mental Health?

If you live with chronic pain, you know the difficulties of maneuvering in daily life. You may, for example, have trouble sleeping or exercising. In addition, you might find socializing or taking care of loved ones utterly exhausting.

If the pain is recent, these adverse symptoms can certainly affect your well-being even more. You may feel worried that the problem will never go away. You might feel depressed over needing to make accommodations or sacrifices.

In addition, there can be societal implications for living with chronic pain. Health insurance, co-pays, and medication can become incredibly expensive. Missing work can jeopardize your career. Needing more rest may affect other obligations and take a toll on your relationships.

How Can Therapy Help With Managing Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain can trigger feelings of shame, fear, guilt, embarrassment, and anger. While these feelings are normal, they can be unsettling.

Therapy, of course, does not entirely change how you feel. However, it can provide a safe outlet to further explore your feelings, challenge automatic assumptions, and learn new ways to cope. Here are some other ways therapy can help.

Reassurance and Understanding

Do you worry that you’re a burden to others? Do you feel like nobody really gets what you’re going through?

It may be true- your loved ones might not know how to best respond to your struggles with pain. They may be impatient or pragmatic, or they might unknowingly discredit your feelings.

With that in mind, therapy is all about cultivating an authentic connection. It’s important that you feel understood and supported during this time. Your struggles are real, and they deserve recognition.

While it’s still important to have outside support, you don’t have to worry about taking care of someone else’s feelings in therapy. The time is solely yours- and yours alone.


Good therapy offers both solution and support. But you need to understand what you’re struggling with if you want the situation to improve.

Psychoeducation is a form of therapeutic education designed to help you better understand your mental health. For chronic pain, psychoeducation may entail reviewing common triggers and learning more about how pain can exacerbate other problems.

Ideally, this education should be both informative and empowering. The more insight you develop about yourself, the more you can distinguish what’s in your control to change.

Decrease Depression and Anxiety Symptoms 

Unfortunatetly, depression and anxiety often coincide with chronic pain. Sometimes, it’s hard to know which condition arrived first. However, it’s clear that both issues can aggravate one another.

Therapy can help address this intersection between your pain and your mental health. You will learn how to adhere to a positive routine and implement healthier lifestyle habits. The combination of these choices can lead to feeling better about yourself.

Pain Management Relief 

Chronic pain can certainly have a psychological component to it. If you’re in pain, it can aggravate stress and tension, which can exacerbate inflammation and trigger even more pain.

Likewise, residual symptoms of chronic pain (like bad sleep, poor nutrition, restlessness, or a lack of exercise) can also make you feel more sensitive to aches and tightness.

Medication and surgeries, of course, can help. But today, many healthcare providers are also looking into more holistic approaches for treating pain.

And while therapy does not directly reduce symptomatoloy, implementing relaxation exercises and other mindfulness-based strategies can make a significant difference. These skills can have a positive effect on your body and reduce the amount of pain you experience.

Final Thoughts

Chronic pain can be frustrating and difficult. It’s hard to live in such discomfort, and it can be scary to worry about what lies ahead in the future.

Seeking support and feeling connected during this time can be invaluable for your emotional well-being. No matter your circumstances, I am here for you.

You don’t have to suffer alone- or in silence. Contact me today to schedule a consultation.

4601 Spicewood Springs Road Building 3, Suite 200
Austin, TX 78759
(512) 988-3363

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