“Am I making my Pain worse by thinking about it?”
Would you believe yes you are!!
During the first day of our October Group Pain Management program last month I asked the same question of everyone.
“Do you think about your pain a litte, moderately or mostly?”
Everyone said Mostly!
This at face value is understandable – after all they are sitting in a Pain Management Program with me! However, the sad reality is such overwhelming attention to pain isn’t helpful! It actually makes one;’s pain experience worse! Both physiologically and emotionally!!
So I had a look at some of the studies out there that specifically have focused on this fact.
Here’s may favourite:
Preoccupation with or attention to pain may influence perceived pain severity and other pain responses. The purpose of this study was to investigate attention to pain in persons with chronic pain. Participants for this study were patients (N = 80, 58.8% female) with chronic low back pain referred to a university pain clinic. A measure of attention to pain, the Pain Vigilance and Awareness Questionnaire (PVAQ), was constructed for this study. It was intended to assess a number of related responses including awareness, vigilance, preoccupation, and observation of pain. The PVAQ showed adequate internal consistency and temporal stability over a short interval. PVAQ scores were positively correlated with private body consciousness and cognitive disability, and negatively correlated with a measure of ignoring pain, supporting their validity. The results of this study show that persons with chronic low back pain who report greater attention to pain also report higher pain intensity, emotional distress, psychosocial disability, and pain-related health care utilization. Regression analyses showed that level of attention to pain remained a significant predictor of distress, disability, and health care utilization independent of pain intensity and relevant demographic variables. These results provide preliminary support for a behavioral conceptualization of attention to pain.
For the full article link here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0005789497800470
Take home message = Paying too much attention to pain make your pain experience worse. So don’t let is consume your everyday focus.
Work on developing psychological tools like mindfulness and pacing to understand “Hurt doesnt equal Harm”, and that by focusing on what you can do with pain leads too much greater activity and mood levels, then focusing on what you can’t do because of pain.
Any questions on how to get started to change your pain focus – sing out via social, email or Live chat!
Pain Management Coordinator | APA Pain Physiotherapist