Practical coping skills are often an overlooked element of pain management
Dr. Jones teamed up with his colleagues at the Pain Consultants of East Tennessee, Knoxville, to teach coping skills within the practice… …settled on a program that offers pain patients asingle, 2-hour, group session.
The sessions focus on teaching the five key pain coping skills:
- Understanding includes providing educational information to the patients about how pain works (types of pain and an explanation of pain gates) as well as understanding specific treatment options.
The difference between pain and suffering is also highlighted.
- Acceptance uses cognitive behavioral concepts to help patients have realistic expectation about therapy and reduce catastrophizing, a key variable in outcomes.
many pain patients blame themselves for being a burden to their families, etc. The “shoulds” are a real problem …
Helping patients move from a “why me” attitude to “what now” is key to successful outcomes.
Gratitude and acceptance are really important elements in recovery.
The above is also the backbone of 12-step recovery programs.
- Calming emphasizes the need to relax the body. Stress can amp up pain and by decreasing stress—through Tai Chi, meditation, relaxation techniques, and biofeedback—patients can help to reduce their pain.
Proper breathing techniques is the number one skill patients can learn to help decrease stress.
- Balancing focuses on teaching patients how to get into helpful routines.
“The goal is to establish a lifestyle that works for the long run,” noted Dr. Jones, including changing from “sprinters to marathoners.”
He emphasizes proper sleep hygiene, saying “no,” time management, and activity pacing.
The latter strategy can help break the cycle of “crash and burn, where patient over-do it when they are feeling good, and then spend the next two days in bed.
- Coping helps patients ask “what kind of pain am I having?” and then teaching them ways to lessen the pain. This is particularly true for myofascial pain, which, when properly addressed by patients, can be lessened significantly. Dr. Jones also emphasizes distraction techniques to help patients get through a painful episode, including playing video games, doing crossword puzzles, and the like.
group therapy is cost-effective and convenient for patients and physicians. Patients also really benefit from being in a group together and seeing that they are not alone.
Lastly, “offering this class can transform a pain practice into a multidisciplinary pain program,” Dr. Jones concluded.
This last quote is a cryptic comment; is it a cynical take on trendy phrases, a subtle hint about billing codes, or just an awkward sentence?