Taking Back Control
by Lakyn Bendle, Behavioral Health Consultant
We all experience pain in our lives, whether it is personally or vicariously through a loved one.Pain can be temporary or chronic, emotional or physical, managed or cured. According to Webster’s dictionary, pain can be defined as physical suffering or discomfort caused by injury or illness, mental suffering or distress, or an annoying person or thing. Pain is viewed as an unpleasant sensation and emotional response to one’s perception of an event – physical or emotional.
However, pain is essential. Pain is a survival symptom which serves a purpose; it causes us to seek medical help, leave a bad situation, change the way we are doing something, etc.
While acute pain is often suddenly caused by a specific injury and is more treatable, chronic pain persists over an extended period and can be resistant to medical treatment. This can leave one with no sense of control.
If chronic pain can resist medical treatment, what options exist?
Pain-management programs can help those living with chronic pain improve their overall quality of life and help relieve symptoms. Programs that include behavioral health interventions, such as HopeHealth Pain Management, often have best results as a focus on lifestyle behaviors can improve overall health. When treatment is centered on improving overall wellness, patients’ quality of life generally improves.
Behaviorists working with pain-management patients treat those with co-occurring behavioral health disorders, such as depression or anxiety, and chronic pain. They also treat and educate those experiencing negative reactions to their pain and improve patients’ ability to cope more effectively. The behaviorists work with patients to adjust the way they think and behave in relation to their behavioral health problems, chronic pain and other relative life stressors.
Many behaviorists use the gate control theory of pain when helping those who are dealing with chronic pain. This theory suggests that psychological factors can influence the perception of pain.
Factors that can alleviate the perception of pain include relaxation/meditation, positive attitude, social support, exercise, distractions and emotion regulation. Behavioral health interventions are the best way to address these factors by modifying the way one thinks, feels, and reacts to the pain.
Pain is complex and can be experienced in many ways. However, there is hope! Control can be achieved when suffering from chronic pain. We might not have control over our medical conditions, but we do have control over how we think and respond to these conditions. By adjusting our thinking and improving our lifestyle and behaviors we can take some control back from what feels like a helpless and hopeless situation.
This is easier said than done, and that is why pain-management programs that integrate behavioral health have the best results.Seeking programs that use behavioral health as a complementary approach is highly advised if you or a loved one are dealing with pain, even if other behavioral health conditions are not present.
Lakyn Bendle joined HopeHealth in May 2018 as a behavioral health consultant. She serves patients at the HopeHealth Medical Plaza in Florence. A native of Amsterdam, Ohio, Bendle earned her bachelor of science in psychology and a master of science in applied psychology in clinical/counseling from Francis Marion University in Florence.