At the Spine Institute, behavioral medicine practitioners are important members of our treatment team.
National research has found that pain, particularly chronic pain associated with spinal disorders, has a greater impact than just on the physical body. The pain you experience may alter your behavior and desire to participate in your normal daily activities. It can impact your mental, social and emotional well-being. If this occurs, it can compromise your quality of life.
In cases where the triage manager believes that you will benefit from this type of evaluation, an expert in pain and behavioral medicine will conduct an assessment to identify and evaluate:
- Levels of pain and its impact on activities of daily living and relationships.
- Assessment of depression and anxiety in the context of pain.
- Appropriateness of various treatment options as they relate to overall outcome success.
- Alternate pain treatments may include:
- Medical hypnosis
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Meditation and breathing work
- Relaxation techniques, or
- Medical acupuncture
- Ways to improve chronic pain management including the invitation to attend a pain management group if applicable.
- Relationships between personality style and chronic pain.
- Mistaken beliefs that aggravate and perpetuate chronic pain.
These evaluations are not the typical psychological or psychiatric approach. If it is recommended that you have this evaluation we are not suggesting that you have mental health problems. These are evaluations and treatment options that are designed to help the entire treatment team understand your individual pain experience. In this way our treatment plan can be specifically tailored to your needs.
Patients may receive these services for many reasons:
- Many physicians and insurers know that an optimal and full pain evaluation includes behavioral medicine. This is often requested for patients who wish to have more aggressive pain technologies and/or surgeries.
- Some patients exhibit significant behavioral distress and the physicians would like a behavioral medicine consultation for treatment planning purposes.
- Other patients may need information about their pain condition and its emotional impact. Treatments that help acute pain not only do not work for chronic pain, but can actually make it worse. Patients may inadvertently work against themselves and increase their pain, without realizing that they are doing so.
- Still other patients may be wrestling with one or more emotions commonly associated with chronic pain such as anger, anxiety and depression. Left uncontrolled, anger, anxiety and depression will increase pain perceptions on a neurobiochemical level, and painkillers alone do not usually help.
These services help identify better pain management and coping skills to optimize overall feelings of health and wellbeing. After all, your pain affects your whole life. Additionally it is true that your life style impacts your pain.
We strongly recommend psychosocial evaluation, for the patient's safety and to provide better overall treatment outcomes.