Reframing the way you think about pain can help release you from its grasp.Getty ImagesProponents of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) say that it can help pain patients end the downward spiral of negative thinking that worsens pain. People suffering from chronic pain can spend a lot of time thinking negatively about their pain, growing concerned, anxious, or pessimistic. Those thoughts can actually increase pain, so therapists work with patients to reframe some of the negative thoughts surrounding their pain. By identifying and changing negative thought patterns, patients can actually help relieve their pain.
To benefit from this technique, patients should see a therapist trained in using CBT for chronic pain to help create a list of coping thoughts relevant to particular situations they are having difficulty dealing with.
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In the chart below, Francis Keefe, PhD, director of the Pain Prevention and Treatment Research Program at Duke University School of Medicine, in Durham, N.C., and colleague Daphne McKee, PhD, have identified some specific examples of the kinds of thoughts people in pain might feel and some possible ways of reframing them. These are not intended to address your situation directly but to give you an idea of how cognitive-behavioral therapy attempts to change the negative thought patterns that can worsen pain.
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