Chronic Pain IS a Catastrophe

We are told that we shouldn’t “catastrophize” our pain because that makes it much worse, and that we need cognitive therapy to disabuse us of our catastrophic notions.

However, the definition of “catastrophe” is an event resulting in great loss and misfortune, and this is the undeniable truth of chronic pain, and no amount of “magical thinking” can change that. 

I believe it’s much better to practice acceptance that this catastrophe of chronic pain happened. 

It would be a waste of energy to pretend chronic pain is not a catastrophe, to pretend everything is “OK”, that you’re not expending so much effort, expense, and pain to manage it, pretend it isn’t always a challenge get through the day without collapsing from pain and fatigue. 

Instead of spending our limited energy on socially pleasing pretenses, we need to figure out how to contain the spread of this catastrophe of chronic pain into all the other parts of our lives.

Exactly what is Pain Catastrophizing? –  April 28, 2016

Pain catastrophizing – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Pain catastrophizing is the tendency to describe a pain experience in more exaggerated terms than the average person, to ruminate on it more (e.g., “I kept thinking ‘this is terrible’”), and/or to feel more helpless about the experience (“I thought it was never going to get better”) People […]

Catastrophizing: Studies from NIH PubMed – December 19, 2016

Many pain patients are upset at being accused of catastrophizing. This theory claims that our concerns, worries, and fears about our pain are greatly increasing our pain, almost to the point of causing it. The media picked up on the story and makes catastrophizing the actual cause of chronic pain, so this concept has been […]

Debunking Catastrophizing

Pain catastrophizing: a critical review –  April 28, 2016

Pain catastrophizing: a critical review | Expert Rev Neurother. 2009 May | free full-text PMC article This article points out that pain catastrophizing has not been sufficiently studied to make it a certain *cause* of increasing pain. I, and others, believe the catastrophizing could just as easliy be caused by pain. It may be a […]

Catastrophizing Debunked as Cause of PainAugust 11, 2016

The causal status of pain catastrophizing: an experimental test with healthy participants. – PubMed – NCBI Eur J Pain. 2005 Jun In the current study we report findings on the effects of experimentally induced catastrophizing about pain on expected pain, experienced pain and escape/avoidance behavior during a cold pressor task in a sample of healthy […]

Catastrophizing: Not a Ploy for AttentionAugust 10, 2016

Catastrophizing: Not a Ploy for Attention Catastrophizing, defined as an exaggerated negative mental set, has consistently shown a negative impact on outcomes in patients with chronic pain and illness. However, the factors that drive this cognitive distortion remain unclear. Who gets to decide which “cognitions” are “distorted” when they are related to personal values? In […]

Fear Avoidance

Fear-Avoidance Maintaining Chronic Pain? August 18, 2016

Fear-Avoidance Conditioning: Maintaining the Chronic Pain Cycle? – Pain – International Association for the Study of Pain | August 11, 2016 In an article recently published in Pain, researchers at the University of Leuven, Belgium propose a model for the transition from acute to chronic pain, based on fear-avoidance With this model, which describes the distinct behaviors underlying […]

Rethinking the fear-avoidance model in pain – February 23, 2014

Rethinking the fear avoidance model – Body in Mind Rethinking relationships between fear, avoidance and pain-related disability Working as a physical therapist, I have sometimes struggled to understand why some of my patients with seemingly similar musculoskeletal injuries recover and why others develop chronic pain and disability. explore how psychosocial and physiological factors shape the […]

Competing Effects of Pain and Fear of Pain – January 10, 2015

Competing Effects of Pain and Fear of Pain on Postural Control in Low Back Pain? : Spine Objective. To determine whether pain and fear of pain have competing effects on postural sway in patients with low back pain (LBP). Summary of Background Data. Competing effects of pain and pain-related fear on postural control can be […]

Contributing Factors

Health Literacy and Pain Catastrophizing – September 3, 2016

Study Finds Strong Correlation Between Health Literacy and Pain Catastrophizing – Pain Medicine News – Aug 2016 Low health literacy was a significant predictor of pain catastrophizing and pain self-efficacy, according to a cross-sectional study of 300 indigent patients with chronic pain at five low-income clinics in rural Alabama Indigent definition: experiencing want or need; […]

Pain Catastrophizing: Psychological and PhysiologicalApril 25, 2015

Pain Catastrophizing Not Just Psychological The term ‘pain catastrophizing’ was first used to describe a maladaptive style of coping with pain that people with anxiety and depression used. Defining Pain Catastrophizing “Pain catastrophizing can be defined as a maladaptive coping style that includes hopelessness, expanded rumination, and pain magnification,” These three components of catastrophizing are […]

Mindfulness, Acceptance and Catastrophizing in Chronic PainFebruary 22, 2014

General psychological acceptance and chronic pain… [Eur J Pain. 2010] – PubMed – NCBI These results suggest that, when people with chronic pain are willing to have undesirable psychological experiences without attempting to control them, they may function better and suffer less. General acceptance may have a unique role to play in the disability and […]


The dynamic effect of pain on attention December 19, 2016

The dynamic effect of pain on attention – Body in Mind – 12/14/16 Pain tends to grab our attention, making it difficult to concentrate on other tasks. This is generally a useful feature of pain – if we burn ourselves while cooking, it’s good that our attention switches away from the food and towards the […]

Accepting Chronic Pain: Is it Necessary? May 3, 2015

Accepting Chronic Pain: Is it Necessary? — Pain News Network A patient of mine told me the other day, “I don’t think I will ever be able to accept my chronic pain. It has completely changed my life.” I think this is something that most people with chronic pain contend with at some point in […]



4 thoughts on “Chronic Pain IS a Catastrophe

  1. Emily Raven

    I’m more than fine accepting I’ll always be in some pain. Whatever. My family is from the south and always had physical jobs and worked well into retirement age be it a job or on the farm/house/land so aches and pains are just a thing. What I can’t accept is the type of pain that makes breathing difficult (causing low blood oxygen that causes me alot of mental effects on top of obvious textbook physical ones) and pain so severe in my head that all I can do is lie in a dark room and pray for unconciousness or for blood or brain fluid to come out of my nose and relieve a tiny bit of the pressure. I have a strange vibe from the “research” that my type/severity of pain isn’t being looked at. The pain that everyone that comments here and on all the popular sites and social media hangouts is not being looked at. Because idiopathic sore lower back is just not the same thing as multisytemic life altering pain that the majority of us go through.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      “idiopathic sore lower back is just not the same thing as multisytemic life altering pain”

      I agree, all the different types of pain are being treated as though they were the same and that’s a big problem. It’s as bad as treating all patients as though they were the same.

      How can people without pain ever understand anything about our pain when they’re always looking for reasons not to believe us?

      How can we explain the differences that are so obvious to us, but seem incomprehensible to people without pain?

      I, too, have a variety of pains in a variety of locations from EDS, and they require completely different treatments. Headaches so intense they make me bang my head against the wall are nothing like the stabbing pain from a misaligned joint.

      Some pains get better from use, others from taking a break, some need heat, some need ice – it all depends on what kind of pain it is.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Genetic Testing in Pain Medicine | EDS and Chronic Pain News & Info

  3. Pingback: Pain catastrophizing measures shown to be invalid | EDS and Chronic Pain News & Info

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