OHSU

Psychology & Behavioral

How Can Psychology Help Me with Chronic Pain?

The Stress-Pain Connection

Research shows that stress makes pain worse. You may be aware of this already. At the Comprehensive Pain Center, one of the goals of Psychology is to gather a detailed history and identify areas of stress in people's lives. Reducing stress in other areas of your life is one good pain management technique.

Coping Skills & Relaxation

Chronic Pain itself can be very stressful. Another role of Psychology is to help people develop effective coping skills. Relaxation training may be one part of this. Because tension we carry in our bodies makes pain worse, using relaxation skills can serve to decrease your pain in addition to decreasing your overall stress level. Research on people with pain overwhelmingly supports coping skills training and relaxation training as being effective for reducing pain.

Increasing Your Control

When we have chronic pain, we may feel at its mercy or out of control. A focal goal of Psychology is to help people identify small areas of control they do have around their pain. Then, Psychology works together with you to help increase your level of control. Research has shown that using this strategy works well for pain management.

Mindful Pain Management

Presence of mind is essential to doing anything well in life — be it working, playing, or conversing with others. However, it is especially important for keeping pain in perspective: as a challenge you can learn to live with, rather than a life-defining preoccupation.