Welcome to Ipswich Hospital
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Wednesday, 13 December 2017
This page aims to answer some of the questions you may have about the Chronic Pain Management Service and coping with your pain. If cannot find the answer you need, you can contact us on 01473 703435 and we will do our best to answer your query.

Chronic Pain Management Service FAQs

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Why have I been referred to see the clinical psychologist?

Psychology is the scientific study of human mind and behaviour: how we think, how we act, react and interact as individuals and in groups. Clinical psychologists specialise in how people think, feel and behave. They use their knowledge and training to help people to reduce distress and increase wellbeing in their lives.

We know that chronic pain does not just affect people physically. It also affects how they think about things, how much they can do, how they feel emotionally, the quality of their life, and their relationships with other people. In turn, these factors can further influence how they think and feel. Many people find that pain leads to changes in the way they live their life (for example in terms of work, finances and self-confidence) and often these can feel like losses. Because of the impact of pain in people’s lives, psychology has an important part to play in pain management.

Clinical psychologists can help people to deal with the impact of pain in their lives by using psychology-based treatment approaches. These treatments, known as ‘psychological therapy’ or ‘talking therapy’, can help people feel a greater sense of control, reduce depression and anxiety, and help to improve memory, concentration and self-esteem. The aim of therapy is to help people work out ways to live as normal a life as possible despite the pain, and to improve quality of life.

You may have been referred because your pain management consultant feels that you would benefit from the support of a clinical psychologist in managing the impact of pain on your life.

You may also see a clinical psychologist if:

  • You are a candidate for certain types of medication or surgical intervention, to ensure you have the best possible outcome from the procedure. For example, the clinical psychologist may meet with you in order to see whether there may be any psychological or social barriers to recovery after surgery.
  • You are thinking about coming on our intensive Pain Management Programme. The clinical psychologist will be interested in finding out whether you would benefit from this and whether a group setting would suit you.
  • You have cognitive problems (problems with thinking, memory, learning) alongside your pain, the clinical psychologist may use a number of tests to help identify where your strengths are and what kind of things you find more difficult.

As we have already seen in the answer to the question “I’ve been told in the past that the pain is ‘all in my head’ or ‘all in my mind’. Is this true?psychological states also can also influence pain directly. Generally speaking, difficult emotions (such as anger, sadness, fear, or anxiety) can act to worsen pain by changing the way nerves process pain messages in the body. Meanwhile more pleasant emotions (such as happiness, calmness), tend to improve the pain experience. Because of the impact of these psychological factors on pain, clinical psychologists also have a role to play in teaching people about non-medical ways of managing their pain.

By taking advantage of the close links between psychological and physical states, clinical psychologists can help you to think, feel and act differently in relation to your pain, and this can influence the pain experience. Clinical psychologists teach these skills either individually, or to groups (in our Pain Management Advice Seminars, and our Pain Management Programme).

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