Psychological Tests to Treat Back Pain
Now let me preface this article by saying that we are never saying that all of your pain is "in your head" or that we are just trying to pass you off to the next doctor because we don't know what is really wrong with you. Just because something obvious doesn't show up on an X-Ray doesn't mean that you don't have soft tissue damage to your back or muscular imbalances that are causing your back pain. We do respect and acknowledge your pain and symptoms, and we will want to treat your physical symptoms first.
That being said, we do understand that your emotional experience as a result of your injury can affect your pain levels as well as emotional experiences outside of your history. Overall, patients with a history or anxiety and depression do report more chronic pain, and patients with a rosier emotional outlook do report fewer rates of illness and chronic musculoskeletal problems.
Although psychological stresses are rarely the sole cause of back pain, they can certainly result from it or contribute from it. For that reason, doctors may prescribe psychological tests to either measure how patients are coping with their chronic pain, or to test for the severity of any simultaneous psychological conditions.
In a psychological tests, a professional (such as a social worker, psychotherapist, psychiatrist, and psychologist) who is trained to help people with pain problems will interview you about your pain or injury, as well as about your work history, home life, possible disability, any worker's compensation or litigation related to your pain, and history of substance that may or may not be related to your condition.
The doctor or professional will ask you questions to help assess your ability to concentrate and sleep. The professional will also ask you questions about your energy levels and your mood. The results of the psychological testing may help your doctor to understand how your pain levels are related to your mood and vice versa, and they may come up with a treatment plan that helps you to cope with both your pain and your experience if it. Some treatments your psychological therapists may be involved with or will teach you how to do at home include stress management techniques.
Stress. It can be a primary source of your back pain (less often) or may amplify the chronic pain caused by a physical condition. Everyone deals with stress, though some have better coping mechanisms for it than others. When you feel stress and anxiety, your muscles become tense. This muscular tension may cause back pain, as the contracted muscles can press on nerves that innervate them. Stress can also cause increased activity in the centers of the brain that send and receive pain signals.
Some stress management techniques include keeping a stress diary, and relaxation techniques. Most relaxation techniques involve techniques to create a peaceful mindset that either distracts you from the pain you are feeling or that changes your mood from one that has negative thoughts, to one with positive and peaceful ones. Some effective relaxation techniques include Deep Breathing Distraction, Guided Imagery, Progressive relaxation, and Visualization.