A comprehensive approach to pain management ideally involves a mix of medical and psychological approaches. Medical approaches include pain medications, physical therapy, and other approaches that address the bodily source of pain. A psychological approach includes various therapies to address the negative emotions and thoughts that accompany pain. Our experience of pain is always filtered by our mental state. This applies to every kind of pain, from a recent injury requiring only acute treatment, to severe injuries and chronic diseases that leave long-lasting pain and discomfort. Especially in the case of chronic pain, our mental habits deeply influence pain’s perceived duration (length of time the pain lasts) and intensity (how strong the pain feels). For this reason, medical treatment alone is simply not enough.
Dr. Couvadelli uses techniques from cognitive-behavioral therapy and cognitive rehabilitation to help her patients manage pain. This is not “talk therapy”, but a set of structured techniques to help you cope with pain. Individuals who experience chronic pain may develop maladaptive patterns of thinking and feeling, such as catastrophizing (i.e., thinking “I will never feel better”), perseveration, and avoidance of activities that might cause pain. Dr. Couvadelli can teach strategies for changing your mental habits so you can replace unhelpful patterns of thinking, and relaxation techniques to deal with emotional stress. Dr. Couvadelli will help you to plan lifestyle changes- getting involved in exercise, and changing sleep and dietary habits, to improve your mood, so that you’ll be better equipped to cope with chronic pain.