Tag Archives: catastrophizing

Absolutes in Chronic Pain Treatment Can Backfire

Absolutes in Chronic Pain Treatment Can Backfire – National Pain Report – Oct 2017 by Ed Coghlan

Beth Darnall PhD is a pain psychologist, noted researcher and Clinical Professor at the Stanford University as well as successful author on chronic pain.

She and her research team have just landed a major grant to study chronic pain. We interviewed her on the grant, the opioid controversy and the National Pain Strategy

Beth Darnall is the main proponent of the “catastrophizing” theory about chronic pain, which is that the patient’s fears of pain supposedly cause most of chronic pain’s amplification.   Continue reading


Preoperative Catastrophizing != Postoperative Pain

Preoperative pain catastrophizing and postoperative pain after total knee arthroplasty: a prospective cohort study with one year follow-up – free full-text /PMC4869354/ – BMC Musculoskelet Disord. – May 2016

Conclusions: No associations were found between preoperative pain catastrophizing and pain eight weeks or one year after surgery.

The decrease in PCS-scores challenges evidence regarding the stability of pain catastrophizing. However, larger studies of psychological risk factors for pain after TKA are warranted.

This paper shows us that “catastrophizing” is actually distress from the severity of pain.  Continue reading

Catastrophizing Not a Factor in Spinal Nociceptive Processing

Pain Catastrophizing is Not Associated With Spinal Nociceptive Processing in People With Chronic Widespread Pain – The Clinical Journal of Pain – September 2017

“…we could find no evidence of a significant relationship between pain catastrophizing and measures of spinal nociceptive processing”

This seems significant in light of the push to blame so much of our chronic pain on catastrophizing. At least this proves that our pain doesn’t originate from catastrophizing.

Pain catastrophizing has been associated with

Continue reading

Temporal Summation (Additive Properties) of Pain

Temporal Summation of Pain” is just a fancy and scientifically specific way of saying that repeated pain is additive: after we’ve been whacked once, another hit in the same spot hurts more; If we get hit there over and over, we start cringing because it hurts more and more.

Evoked Temporal Summation in Cats to Highlight Central Sensitization Related to Osteoarthritis-Associated Chronic Pain: A Preliminary Study – Free full-text PMC4032234 – PLoS One. 2014 May

In cats, osteoarthritis causes significant chronic pain.

Chronicity of pain is associated with changes in the central nervous system related to central sensitization, which have to be quantified.  Continue reading

“Catastrophizing” – Thomas Dikel

“Catastrophizing” – Thomas Dikel – Medium – Aug 2017

Mr. Dikel seems to have the same feelings about catastrophizing that I do:

I REALLY am starting to resent, not quite hate, but getting close, the use of the word “Catastrophizing.”

What it’s supposed to mean is a distortion in thinking in which something that isn’t that big a deal is made out to be a bloody CATASTROPHE! Its been described as always presuming the worst, making things worse than they are.   Continue reading

Blaming a patients’ doubts about “getting better”

How doubts about getting better influence chronic pain treatment success | Scienmag: Latest Science and Health News – May 2017

A leading psychology professor at The University of Texas at Arlington has focused international attention on how a chronic pain patient’s irrational doubts about never getting better can influence both his reactions to pain and even treatment outcomes.

Irrational? When your pain comes from a genetic flaw, it cannot “get better”.

This dismissiveness is typical of doctors who assume your complaints are just normal aches and pains or from a temporary injury.    Continue reading

Pain Catastrophizing: A Review from 2012

Pain Catastrophizing: An Updated Review | Indian J Psychol Med. 2012 | free full-text PMC article

Pain catastrophizing has been described for more than half a century which adversely affects the pain coping behavior and overall prognosis in susceptible individuals when challenged by painful conditions.

This is the first time I’ve heard that catastrophizing only affectssusceptible individuals”. It makes me wonder what they mean by “susceptible”.

It seems that any patient who needs opioids is assumed to be catastrophizing – otherwise, their pain wouldn’t be “that bad”.   Continue reading

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.  Continue reading

Being “in the Now” When “Now” Hurts

Actually, Let’s Not Be in the Moment – The New York Times – By Ruth Whippman – Nov. 26, 2016

The simplification and mass-production of a philosophy make it ridiculous.

I’m making a failed attempt at “mindful dishwashing,” the subject of a how-to article an acquaintance recently shared on Facebook.

According to the practice’s thought leaders, in order to maximize our happiness, we should refuse to succumb to domestic autopilot and instead be fully “in” the present moment, engaging completely with every clump of oatmeal and decomposing particle of scrambled egg.

Mindfulness is supposed to be a defense against the pressures of modern life, but it’s starting to feel suspiciously like it’s actually adding to them.   Continue reading

Factors Associated with Higher Reported Pain Levels

Factors Associated with Higher Reported Pain Levels in Patients with Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain: A Cross-Sectional, Correlational Analysis – PLoS One. 2016

Chronic musculoskeletal pain is highly prevalent, disabling, and costly, and has many negative effects on quality of life.

The aim of this study was to investigate factors associated with higher reported pain levels in patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain among demographic, clinical, and psychological factors, and to evaluate whether insomnia is independently associated with pain intensity in this population.

A total of 357 patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain (pain duration ≥ six months) satisfied the study inclusion criteria and were included in the analyses   Continue reading