Somatic (physical) pain is necessary for our survival. If you never experienced somatic pain, any injury would become life threatening, due to your lack of awareness that there was a problem. For example, you would keep walking on an injured leg, because your brain did not register the injury. So the experience of pain is necessary for our health and survival. Acute pain occurs after any injury or damage to your body. Most injuries, even severe ones, typically heal in 3 to 6 months or less. Chronic pain is the ongoing experience of pain after 6 months or so, when your somatic injury is fully healed. For reasons we do not fully understand, individuals with chronic pain experience ongoing pain, as if the initial physical injury never healed.
Millions of Americans suffer from chronic pain each year, more than the combined total of individuals with diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer. If you were diagnosed with one of those serious medical conditions, other than chronic pain, your condition would probably elicit sympathy and support from others. Treatment options would be clearly understood.
In spite of the fact that chronic pain is now recognized as a legitimate medical condition, there are still significant stigmas associated with chronic pain. Others may believe you are imagining or exaggerating your pain, or you are trying to avoid responsibilities, or just trying to gain sympathy. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
In addition, assessing and treating chronic pain is very complicated and complex. Individuals with chronic pain typically seek treatment from a variety of sources and receive conflicting and contradictory diagnoses and treatment recommendations. Many individuals undergo surgery without any pain relief. We now know that the long-term use of opioid medications are very ineffective and will actually make your experience of pain worse.
Your ongoing experience of pain has created new nerve pathways in your brain that perpetuates your experience of pain.
A variety of mental health techniques can help you “unlearn” these pathways and live a happier and more productive life.
I have specialized training in the psychological treatment of somatic pain. You might be suffering from acute pain after an injury or surgery, and you want to learn ways to reduce your pain while your body heals. You may have had a chronic pain condition for several years, and you are still searching for any reduction in pain.
If this sounds like what you are experiencing, give me a call. I will meet with you to thoroughly assess your pain condition. Afterwards, we can decide together whether you could benefit from a psychological approach to somatic pain relief.
There is hope!