Cutting Edge Psychology

Fear makes chronic pain worse

Posted on November 26, 2013 at 5:35 AM

As detailed in Chapter 9 of 'The Hidden Psychology of Pain', fear of pain actually feeds back into pain generating emotions like a negative feedback loop, making it worse. Researcher in Switzerland recently reported on a study which demonstrated the power of fear to exacerbate chronic back pain (lumbago). The researchers conclude that first pain reliever that should be administered to sufferers is a large dose of reassurance. What do people in chronic back pain need reassurance about? Most experiences of chronic back pain are not resulting from structural damage to the spine, despite how it feels. Pain does not mean damage. It is not only OK to move again, but it is desirable to move again- pain will become more entrenched and chronic to the extent that people remain immobile. Degenerative changes in the spine are normal. Most people over the age of 20 have at least one site of disc pathology, and yet are not in pain. Most people over the age of 40 have multiple sites of disc pathology, and are still not in pain. It is actually quite difficult to seriously damage the spine. These are the messages endorsed by most health authorities dealing with chronic pain, and British research has demonstrated the effectiveness of simply reasurring sufferers with this type of accurate information.

Fear Feeds the Pain: Suffering from Lumbago

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