People often find injury or pain difficult. Physically, every day actions become troublesome, and key parts of life are missed, e.g., going to work, seeing friends, exercising. Emotionally, this can take its toll, particularly if life is disrupted greatly or for a long time.

Understandably therefore, people are increasing seeing psychologists for emotional and mental health support to deal with injury or pain-related worries, anxiety, depression, or trauma.

But latest pain science clearly shows that:

Our psychology, and its sister discipline neuroscience,
also play a crucial role in whether, and how well, we recover.

In fact, our thoughts and emotions affect recovery from the very first moment of injury and pain, and can even cause them!

To be clear, pain is NOT ‘All in the mind,’ nor ‘made up.’ This alas, is too often an unfortunate conclusion when medics, scans, surgery, fail to find a physical cause or cure. But injury, pain and recovery are more complex than this current, ‘biomedical (biological) approach’ assumes. Here, psychology can help solve the jigsaw puzzle by giving fuller explanations and solutions.

So Why Psychology?

  1. The brain is boss. It controls how the body responds to injury and pain, e.g., blood flow, chemical release, inflammation, how we move, etc.
  2. Every person’s recovery is affected by their unique mix of biology, psychology, and social factors. This includes our memories, beliefs, knowledge, thoughts, and approach to pain and life in general.
  3. Negative emotions directly impact nerve sensitivity at the injured/pain site, spinal cord, and brain.
  4. Fear of moving is a real threat to recovery.
  5. We learn to feel pain. Within 3 months, strong connections have grown across the brain to help us make fast, subconscious decisions –decisions that at this stage, often bring more pain. Pain has to be ‘unlearnt.’

How Can A Psychologist Help?

Research shows,

Those who understand injury and pain recover better. Those who take control manage pain better.

A psychologist, crucially, with additional expertise in pain science, can help you do just this. They can help you:

  • Understand why and what your brain and body are doing to help or hinder recovery.
  • Find your hidden mix of causes and solutions.
  • Reduce the worries and fears.
  • Unlearn pain, by helping you to think and do helpful things more often.

So, if you have injury or pain, the sooner you understand how your brain and own psychology affects recovery, the better.

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