Pain and Stress Management

Chronic Pain

Everyone experiences pain at some point in his/her life. The pain can be acute and for a short time, such as after an operation or injury. Sometimes however, pain can be a long-standing problem that does not go away even though you try the common pain relieving therapies. Regardless of what type of pain you experience, it may be severe enough to affect your day-to-day ability to work, to enjoy loved ones, or to take care of yourself. Comprehensive treatment for pain management is available and should include a multi-disciplinary approach encompassing medical and psychological treatments.

Psychological treatment for pain and stress management has become recognized as an important aspect in a total treatment approach. Health care providers now recognize that psychological factors may contribute to the continuation of pain and that psychological disorders such as depression can often be the result of chronic pain. Hospitals nationwide have been developing pain centers which address both the physical and psychological aspects of chronic pain.

The experience of pain is both neurological and psychological. Historically, individuals with chronic pain were treated with multiple medications which addressed the neurological or physical aspects of pain, but left the patient sedated and unable to complete their day-to-day activities. Modern treatment procedures aim at reducing the reliance on pain medication. Toward that end, a vast array of medical and psychological procedures are employed.

The clinicians at Port Jefferson Psychological & Vocational Associates are part of a comprehensive pain management team that addresses chronic pain. Dr. Di Dio who is on staff at several area hospitals, is associated with the Mather/St. Charles Pain Management Center. This center is a multi-disciplinary pain management treatment program with both and in and out patient component. Here, each patient is seen by a physician who reviews the complete medical history, performs a thorough physical examination and will determine what other diagnostic tests and treatments are necessary. At this time, Psychological intervention may be indicated and Dr. Di Dio will evaluate the patient and prescribe psychological treatment that will be utilized as part of the treatment program. Psychological treatments include, psychotherapy, relaxation and perhaps hypnotic treatment for pain control. Indeed, the addition of psychological treatments to the total treatment program has reduced pain scores an impressive 10%-20%. Each patients treatment is individualized to meet their needs, and treatment can be provided in the hospital and following discharge.

Stress Management

Stress is the “wear and tear” our bodies experience as we adjust to our continually changing environment; it has physical and emotional effects on us and can create positive or negative feelings. As a positive influence, stress can help compel us to action and can result in a new awareness and a new perspective. As a negative influence, it can result in feelings of distrust, rejection, anger and depression, which can lead to health problems such as headaches, upset stomach, rashes, insomnia, high blood pressure , heart disease and stroke.

As you have seen, positive stress adds anticipation and excitement to life, and we all thrive under a certain amount of stress, our goal is not to eliminate all stress but to manage stress and use it to help us. Insufficient stress acts as a depressant and may leave us bored or dejected; on the other hand, excessive stress may leave us feeling “tied up in knots”.

There is no single level of stress that is optimal for all people and each person reacts differently to different stressors. Also , our personal stress requirements and the amount which we can tolerate before we become distressed changes with age. It has been found that many illnesses are related to unrelieved stress. If you are experiencing stress symptoms, you have gone beyond your optimal stress level; you need to reduce the stress lin your life and or improve your ability to mange it.

The following are some ideas on how you can manage your stress levels:

  • Become aware of your stressors and your emotional and physical reactions.
  • Notice your distress, do not ignore it, determine what events distress you.
  • Recognize what you can change.
  • Can you change or avoid stressors, can you reduce their intensity.
  • Reduce the intensity of your emotional reactions to stress.
  • Try to temper your emotions, review some of your expectations.
  • Learn to moderate your physical reactions to stress.
  • Try deep breathing, relaxation techniques, consider possible medications.
  • Build your physical reserves.
  • Exercise, eat a well balanced diet, control weight, obtain adequate sleep, recreate.
  • Maintain your emotional reserves.
  • Develop supportive friendships, pursue realistic goals, expect frustrations, and be kind to yourself.

Consider professional help if necessary. The clinicians at Port Jefferson Psychological & Vocational Associates can evaluate your particular stress and prescribe treatment which will help you manage stress and direct it toward positive results.