By Dr Christie Mason, Clinical Pain Psychologist at Northern Integrated Pain Management
Pain is just the catalyst. Its not necessarily about the pain, its about everything it takes away from you.
Before Mary had pain, she slept nine hours a night, now she sleeps 2.
Before Mark had pain he enjoyed camping and fishing, now he is unable to mow the lawn.
Before Melissa had pain she worked long hours in her job and loved it, now she is unable to sit for any more than 20 minutes at a time and works 2 half days per week in a completely different job.
These are all very common stories in pain management. The pain wouldn’t be quite so debilitating if it didn’t turn worlds upside down.
Then the downward spiral begins.
Mary, because she only sleeps for 2 hours a night now, finds she cannot concentrate during the day because she is so tired
Mark, who is now unable to complete basic tasks around the home, watches his wife mow the lawn, and begins to feel useless and worthless.
Melissa, who can no longer work in her old role, feels a loss of identity and a loss of control in a job she previously loved and owned.
Poor memory, physically deconditioning, depression, anger, hopelessness, and a loss of control are all common problems experienced by chronic pain sufferers.
As a pain psychologist, I tend to see chronic pain sufferers when they are at their worst. Some people who enter my room are dubious and unsure; there is a fear that I will tell them they are crazy and their pain is in their heads. Other people come in completely broken after they have already been through the ‘ringer’ to find that nothing that helped their pain and they don’t know where to turn.
The role of pain psychology doesn’t need to be overcomplicated. Pain psychology can be about support and empathy, about understanding what is happening to your body and mind now you have pain but, most importantly, it should be about moving forward and improving overall quality of life.
If you would like to make an appointment with Christie our Clinical Pain Psychologist, please call us on (02) 4923 8900.