Thursday, March 7, 2013

Catastrophizing And Pain

Catastrophizing And Pain
In a published article in 2001 by The Clinical Journal Of Pain (Vol. 17, No. 1, 2001), an overview of research was summarized.  In this published article, the authors were showing the relationship between catastrophizing and pain.  Overall catastrophizing accounts for 7% to 31% of the variance in pain ratings.

Someone that catastrophizes has a tendency to make a much bigger deal out of the pain they are feeling, than it most likely is.  Generally this person is consumed with worry, fear, and hardly no method to divert their attention away from the pain they were experiencing.

Pain and catastrophizing appears to start early in life.  It often has impacted the duration of hospital stays and the frequency.  In addition, there are generally more frequent visits to health care providers.  It often increases the amount of pain medication that is required to treat a person after situations such as surgery.  It has also been reported that catastrophizing can actually increase the degree of disability one may experience.

In some studies, women actually score higher  with women more likely than men to report high levels of intense pain.  Women also show an increased usage of healthcare and exhibit more pain behavior.

While pain shows up differently in male and female children early in life, girls are more likely to react to pain by crying, screaming, or showing anger.  It is very important to note that adults give female children more physical comfort than the male children.  It is possible that the comfort given may shape the reactions to the pain experience later on in life.

With minimal intervention, it was found that the mere suggestion to not engage in catastrophic thinking, changed how the catastrophizers viewed the pain.  It was as if they were no longer catastrophizing.

Catastrophizing has been demonstrated to be highly correlated with depression, anxiety, fear of pain and the inability to cope with the pain.

While all of this makes perfect sense to me, I know so many people struggle with pain.  From those that are highly sensitive, to those that have lived a lifetime of pain, this is a subject that affects the quality of life for these individuals.  Until we begin to learn and understand pain and how each one of us reacts to it, we will be its prisoner for life.

One of the things I find lacking in our healthcare is that people have absolutely no tools for dealing with pain.  Instead, as a society, we rush to the healthcare provider demanding pain pills or a procedure or treatment to take away the pain.  Unfortunately with this behavior, we are doing nothing to get rid of the pain.  We are only numbing our body and our mind to its existence.  It is still there, but we have just buried it deep within.

Learning how to interact with the felt sense of our body, connected to our mind will begin to give us the tools to understand how to deal with pain in our body and our life.  By gradually building up our body to go in and experience the pain, knowing that we don't have to get lost in the fear, will give us the ability to overcome this in our life.

Fear is often at the root of pain and in dealing with pain.  We all know that the minute we feel pain, if we are open and aware, we will see the fear in us rise instantaneously.  It is the fear that takes us further into the pain and holds us hostage.  If we learn how to interact with the fear, we will reclaim the power from that moment in our body and transform our life.

To read the entire research article, go to The Clinical Journal Of Pain website.

Blog Post And Images (c) 2/26/13 by Don Shetterly

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