Enhancing Pain Self-Management | Changing Behavior by Focusing on Thoughts
Because chronic pain conditions are rarely curable, the focus
of CBT is not on eliminating the pain but on helping patients to
enhance their quality of life and minimize the impact of pain on
their lives (i.e., to improve function). This treatment focus presents
its own challenges because a downward spiral of disability often
accompanies chronic pain, with pain leading to distress, withdrawal,
and inactivity, which then lead to further dysfunction and eventual
disability, promoting even further pain, distress, and so on. Helping
patients to maintain their level of functioning or to change their
behavior to regain function is a difficult but attainable goal.
Appropriate pain self-management behaviors (also referred to as coping
behaviors) include restoring or maintaining work
and family activities, using the health care system and pain medications
appropriately, and engaging in regular, paced physical activity.
It is interesting to note that although pain reduction is not a
primary aim of CBT, patients often report reductions in pain following
treatment (Hoffman et al. 2007; Ostelo et al. 2005; Rains et al. 2005).