The psychological impact of pain

And the needed shift to a more holistic approach to treatment

Pain serves an essential purpose by alerting you to injuries such as a sprained ankle or burned hand. This natural response is the body’s way of warning that we are in immediate danger and that action must be taken to avoid further injury. Chronic pain, however, is often more complex. Although people often think of pain as a purely physical sensation, pain has biological, psychological, and emotional factors. 


Further, chronic pain can cause feelings such as anger, hopelessness, sadness and anxiety. Because of this, to treat pain effectively, we must address its physical, emotional and psychological aspects. 


While medical treatments, including medication, surgery, rehabilitation, and physical therapy may offer tangible solutions to treating chronic pain, ignoring patients’ psychological health would be a critical error. Psychological therapies are an essential part of pain management. Understanding and managing the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that accompany the discomfort can help you cope more effectively with your pain and reduce your pain intensity.


What Does Psychology Have To Do With Pain? 

Pain is a complex phenomenon. Experts agree, the unique way each individual perceives pain and its severity, how it evolves, and its effectiveness depend on a constellation of biological, psychological, and social factors. Because we are focusing on the psychological component of pain management, we must define it. 


Simply put – The Psychological component to pain includes anxiety, fear, guilt, anger, depression, and thinking the pain represents something worse than it does and that the person is helpless to manage it.


Psychological Treatments for Pain

Psychologists are experts in helping people cope with the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that accompany chronic pain. They may work with individuals and families through an independent private practice or as part of a health care team in a clinical setting. 


Patients with chronic pain may be referred to psychologists by other health care providers. Psychologists may collaborate with other health care professionals to address both the physical and emotional aspects of patients’ pain. When working with a psychologist, you can expect to discuss your physical and emotional health. The psychologist will ask about the pain you experience, where and when it occurs, and what factors may affect it. Also, he or she will likely ask you to discuss any worries or stresses, including those related to your pain. You also may be asked to complete a questionnaire that allows you to record your thoughts and feelings about your pain. Having a comprehensive understanding of your concerns will help the psychologist begin to develop a treatment plan. For patients dealing with chronic pain, treatment plans are designed for that particular patient. The program often involves teaching relaxation techniques, changing old beliefs about pain, building new coping skills and addressing any anxiety or depression that may accompany your pain. One way to do this is by helping you learn to challenge any unhelpful thoughts you have about pain. A psychologist can help you develop new ways to think about problems and find solutions. 


In some cases, distracting yourself from pain is helpful. In other cases, a psychologist can help you develop new ways to think about your pain. Studies have found that some psychotherapy can be as effective as surgery for relieving chronic pain because psychological treatments for pain can alter how your brain processes pain sensations. A psychologist can also help you make lifestyle changes that will allow you to continue participating in work and recreational activities. And because pain often contributes to insomnia, a psychologist may also help you learn new ways to sleep better.


Overcoming and Combating Stress

Having a painful condition is stressful. Unfortunately, stress can contribute to a range of health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, and anxiety. Additionally, stress can trigger muscle tension or muscle spasms that may increase pain. Managing your emotions can directly affect the intensity of your pain. 


Psychologists can help you manage the stresses in your life related to your chronic pain. Additionally, psychologists can help you learn relaxation techniques, such as meditation or breathing exercises, to keep stress levels under control. 


Some psychologists and other health care providers use an approach called biofeedback, which teaches you how to control certain bodily functions. In biofeedback, sensors attached to your skin measure your stress response by tracking processes like heart rate, blood pressure, and even brain waves. As you learn strategies to relax your muscles and mind, you can watch on a computer screen as your body’s stress response decreases. In this way, you can determine which relaxation strategies are most effective and practice using them to control your body’s response to tension. 


Stress is an unavoidable part of life; however, managing your stress effectively can help your body and mind while lessening your pain. Pain is an all-too-familiar problem and the most common reason that people see a physician. Unfortunately, alleviating pain isn’t always straightforward, which is why expert guidance is needed. 


According to the Institute of Medicine, at least 100 million adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain. Additionally, the National Center for Biotechnology Information reports that chronic pain affects more Americans than diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined.

Exercise – A Healthy Habit & Amazing Pain Fighter

Nearly any physical exercise is good. Just by walking or climbing a set of stairs, one can energize his or her own body. The importance is to have a routine. With routine, our body will adjust its metabolism to our program and burn fats and build muscles. Exercising routinely fights stress and anxiety and strengthens our sleeping cycles. A routine exercise program is the first building block to a healthy life and a critical foundation for supplemental hormones.



Your inner clock is not only related to a sleeping schedule. Your body can anticipate when exercise is going to occur if a regulated routine is in place. This way, your metabolism begins working in the hour preceding your scheduled activity, and your body is actually looking forward to every day. Without a routine, your body doesn’t anticipate the exercise and no consistency is developed. This can be quite a psychological damper for you, as you don’t feel that you are improving. The general rule is: Exercise a minimum of 30 minutes every day, five days a week. Get your body in the routine that will make your life better.


Hormones and Exercise

When your routine begins working for you, we will also start working for you. The effectiveness of our supplemental hormones coupled with your exercise routine will increase their effectiveness manifold. Not only are you taking care of yourself, but we are helping you achieve the maximum efficiency your body has to offer. Past the age of 28, the hormonal production of your body declines. With our supplements and your love of exercise, you will feel better, be healthier, be more alert, and improve many aspects of your life that you might not have believed to be connected to a simple routine.


Your Mental Health, Coping Tools and Physical Activity Are All Essential and Intertwined

A holistic approach to pain management must acknowledge and promote healthy habits (both mental and physical) alongside traditional therapies. By working with knowledgeable pain treatment specialists who can guide patients towards resources and tools to better their bodies and minds, better medical outcomes are more attainable. 

We encourage anyone experiencing chronic pain to acknowledge and monitor their emotional wellbeing and shortcomings closely. Most of all, if you are experiencing issues coping with stress, depression or other barriers to good mental health, we encourage you to speak with your doctor.