By Ed Coghlan
The psychology of pain was a topic of a Twitter conversation hosted by the Stanford University Pain Medicine on Thursday.
“It shows there’s not only huge interest in bring awareness to pain psychology but also providing education about pain psychology,” said Beth Darnall, Ph.D., who is a pain psychologist at Stanford.
The numbers seem to support her claim, since the one hour Twitter chat reached over 66,000 persons worldwide.
In addition to Stanford, the American Academy of Pain Management, American Pain Society, the Southern Pain Society and For Grace were organizations that promoted the effort.
You can still participate by going to Twitter and using the hashtag #PainPsychChat. During the live sessions participants were asked to comment on five main questions:
- Pain is not “all in your head.” But the brain does process all pain. What does this mean for treating pain?
- How do your thoughts and emotions affect pain?
- What is pain catastrophizing? What are its affects? Have you had experience working to decrease it?
- What is the science on mind-body treatments like meditation, yoga, others? What’s your experience w/ these treatments?
- How can psychotherapy help with pain? Have you had any experience with therapy for pain?
“We chose those questions to elicit a real conversation and allow people to feel comfortable really and encouraged participation,” Darnall said.
Some of the commentary that was generated during the chat reminded pain patients that their pain is not in their head. Here are some of the comments:
“Your pain is physical and real! But your emotions impact your pain and need to be part of treatment.”
“Pain can trigger depression, anxiety, & sleep changes. Depression & anxiety can also impact how you experience pain.”
“Pain catastrophizing is a pattern of responding to actual or anticipated pain w/ great distress. Pain Catastrophizing can make acute pain become chronic pain.”
“There is at least some consistent evidence for physical interventions with lots of psychological overtones, like tai chi”
Psych treatment must include learning skills/tools to manage pain and distress- not just talking about pain.”
The twitter chat brought the pain community together in real time, pain leaders, phsyicians, mental health professionals and of course, patients all able to talk with each other.
“This was an important step in dismantling misconceptions about what it mean to be referred to a pain psychologist,” Darnall added.
This won’t be the last of these types of digital gatherings.
Nor should it be.
Are there questions you think should be added next time? Let us know.
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