We all have experienced and understand acute pain (pain that lasts a short time). With acute pain, the cause of the pain is identified, medical treatment is provided, and the pain improves. Chronic pain is different from acute pain. The cause of chronic pain can be difficult to identify. Also, chronic pain care necessarily involves the use of behavioral medicine (psychology, psychiatry, social work) and rehabilitation (physical therapy, occupational therapy) treatments in addition to medical treatments.
Chronic pain tends to significantly and negatively affect everyday functioning. People living with pain often find that everyday activities like daily chores, childcare, work, exercise, and socializing are very challenging. Often, the experience of living with chronic pain can lead to feelings of frustration, anger, and distress, as well as withdrawal from activities. Behavioral medicine clinicians can help individuals living with pain learn ways to effectively cope with these feelings and develop behavioral strategies to function better with pain. Individuals who learn ways to effectively cope with pain and pain-related difficulties often benefit more from the medical and rehabilitation treatments they receive.
The behavioral medicine clinicians in the Division of Pain Medicine use a collaborative approach to care. The clinicians understand the experience of chronic pain and work with patients to identify coping skills that improve functioning and well-being.
If you are living with pain and have not yet had the opportunity to receive behavioral medicine treatment, ask your Pain Medicine physician for a referral to see a behavioral medicine clinician in the Division of Pain Medicine at UPMC. Our behavioral medicine clinicians offer both in-clinic and telemedicine services.