Pain is not a purely physical phenomenon but also has emotional, biological and psychological components. This mind-body connection means that not only can psychological difficulties contribute to the experience of physical pain but also the reverse, physical pain can lead to emotional and psychological problems.

A recent meta-analysis (a statistical analysis of multiple studies that address the same hypothesis) conducted by Cao et al. found that a staggering 23 percent of individuals who suffered from chronic non-cancer pain (CNCP) had symptoms related to borderline personality disorder (BPD) including:

unstable relationships
unstable moods 
affect instability (dramatic vacillation of emotions that are very hard to control)

Based on this and similar findings, Cao stressed the importance of addressing the psychological requirements of those presenting with chronic pain. Elaborating upon this, Cao pointed out that there is a significant psychological element to how an individual experiences physical pain and that many individuals suffering from it have also experienced significant psychological trauma.

What Types Of Pain Did Those In The Study Experience?

The types of pain experienced included the following.:

HEADACHES 11.3 percent
ARTHRITIS 27.5 percent
CHRONIC SPINAL CORD PAIN 24.3 percent

Cao suggests that those suffering from BPD may be treatment-resistant when only their physical pain is treated and that it is necessary to treat their psychological difficulties as well as this can improve their ability to manage their physical pain.


IMPLICATIONS FOR THE TREATMENT OF CHRONIC PAIN:

Cao concluded that because untreated BPD seems to be linked to a higher risk of suffering from chronic pain it follows that those presenting with chronic pain should be screened for BPD. If the individual is found to have BPD s/he may then be given the appropriate psychiatric care which, in turn, is likely to make his/her chronic physical pain less difficult to treat.

Some studies have shown that psychological treatments can ameliorate the sensation of pain as effectively as surgery by altering the manner in which the brain responds to pain signals.

META-ANALYSIS INVESTIGATING HOW EFFECTIVE HYPNOTHERAPY IS IN THE TREATMENT OF CHRONIC PAIN:

This study reviewed 13 published, peer-reviewed articles and it was found that each of these studies showed that intervention using hypnotherapy was significantly more effective in the reduction of pain in chronic pain patients than was time alone (i.e. with no treatment). The significant effect of pain reduction using hypnotherapy included the reduction in pain in patients suffering from a wide range of conditions that included lower back pain, cancer-related pain, arthritis pain, temporomandibular pain, sickle-cell disease, and disability-related pain.

PSYCHOLOGICAL TECHNIQUES AND THERAPIES FOR MANAGING CHRONIC PAIN:

Mindfulness (enabling the individual to view pain from an alternative perspective
Hypnotherapy
CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy)
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
Somatic anchoring
Relaxation techniques

DIALECTICAL BEHAVIOURAL THERAPY:


This is an evidence-based therapy for the treatment of BPD and includes the teaching of ‘DISTRESS TOLERANCE.’

TEN WAYS TO REDUCE PAIN RECOMMENDED BY THE NHS:

10 ways to reduce pain

(External link to NHS website page).



N.B. NEVER ASSUME PHYSICAL PAIN IS PSYCHOLOGICAL IN ORIGIN. CONSULT A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL.

RESOURCE:
MANAGE CHRONIC PAIN | SELF HYPNOSIS DOWNLOADS


REFERENCE: Elkins, G., Jensen, M. P., & Patterson, D. R. (2007). Hypnotherapy for the management of chronic pain. The International journal of clinical and experimental hypnosis55(3), 275–287. https://doi.org/10.1080/00207140701338621

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).