Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help bring relief to some patients with chronic pain, a new study suggests. The findings are potentially significant in light of the increasing incidence of painkiller overdoses and addiction, according to Fox News.
CBT includes talk therapy to change how patients think about their pain, as well as behavioral changes to reduce stress, manage anxiety and improve sleep, the article notes.
Researchers at the University of Manchester in England studied 442 patients with chronic body-wide pain. They were randomly assigned to one of four groups. One group received CBT by phone; a second group was told to exercise 20 to 60 minutes daily, at least twice a week; a third participated in both CBT and exercise; and a fourth continued with whatever pain treatments they had previously been using.
The researchers report in this month’s Archives of Internal Medicine that 37 percent of those in the CBT and exercise group reported feeling “much better” or “very much better” after nine months, compared with 33 percent in the CBT-only group, 24 percent in the exercise-only group, and 8 percent in the usual treatment group.
CBT is short-term therapy, often only eight to 10 sessions. CBT strategies for patients in pain include increasing activity levels by participating in rewarding activities, and helping identify unhelpful patterns of thinking and replacing them with more constructive approaches. The therapy also can involve relaxation techniques.
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