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Back and Neck Pain

Emotional and Cognitive Dimensions of Chronic Pain, Part III

Author| Barry Kerzin, MD

From the Dalai Lama's personal physician

Emotional and Cognitive Dimensions of Chronic Pain

Let’s explore some of the approaches to treating chronic pain that target the emotional and cognitive dimensions of pain. First, we’ll explore meditation.

While meditation does not actually get rid of the pain, it helps us ‘reframe’ our experience of pain so that we can live with it more successfully.

This means improved relationships, improved ability to hold a job, and improved self-image. Clients completing and continuing their daily meditation in Kabat-Zinn’s MBSR programs for chronic pain, report that their pain has not gone away. But they report that their experience has significantly changed. They no longer exaggerate the situation with fear and anxiety.

They learn to stay with the present sensations without forming concepts of “pain,” of “body breaking” of  “never get over this“ or “will I die,” and others, that lead to fear.

They no longer think, “How can I go on like this?” Or, “I am sure something will break.” Or, “this is killing me.” Rather they learn to stay with the sensations in the present moment.

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Continue to Part IV