ACT Therapy Shows Promise for Chronic Pain Management

ACT Therapy Shows Promise for Chronic Pain Management

ACT Therapy Shows Promise for Chronic Pain Management

The pain management doctors here at Lone Star Pain Medicine specialize in treatments that are not typically offered in primary care settings. But we would never go so far as to say that any of our treatments is guaranteed to work. People respond differently to their treatments, so there is no one-size-fits-all option. With that being the case, we are excited about an emerging therapy known as ACT.

ACT is an acronym that stands for ‘acceptance and commitment therapy’. It is a form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a therapy that helps people overcome certain types of problems by changing their thought patterns and developing coping mechanisms.

While ACT is not intended to be a drop-in replacement for pain medication, physical therapy, and treatments like spinal cord stimulation and steroid injections, research suggests that it is a viable option that pain management doctors can add to their medical toolboxes. If ACT can help some chronic pain patients live their best lives, it is a therapy worth exploring.

The Research is Promising

Medical science is not quite ready to pronounce ACT is a viable treatment for chronic pain. But the research we have thus far is promising. Psychology Today’s Rubin Khoddam Ph.D. recently wrote a piece highlighting some of that research. The studies he mentioned are quite exciting reads – if you are into that sort of thing.

For example, a 2017 study he cited “demonstrated greater clinical efficacy” when ACT groups were compared to control groups. The control groups were offered traditional treatments, including pain medications.

A 2021 study showed a link between a lower pain intensity and acceptance among chronic pain patients. The study also found a link between higher pain acceptance and a reduction in depression and anxiety.

What does this all mean? The studies mentioned in the Psychology Today article are all rooted in something medical science has suspected for a long time: a person’s perception of pain is at least partially influenced by their thoughts about it. A simple way to understand it is this: if you expect something to hurt a lot, it probably will.

People Have Different Pain Thresholds

The underlying thought behind ACT makes perfect sense when you realize that people have different pain thresholds. Something that might be minor to you could be significant to someone else. When it comes to chronic pain, differing pain thresholds among patients is what makes pain management so challenging. Its why pain management has become its own specialized area of medicine.

Differing pain thresholds also partially explain why our treatment options vary so much. Likewise, people respond to treatments differently. We might recommend a particular treatment to a patient suffering from lower back pain but a completely different treatment for another patient. Why? Because the two patients have demonstrated different treatment responses.

It is Something to Think About

CBT has traditionally been utilized as a therapy for treating addiction, depression, anxiety, and similar disorders. But as our understanding of it has increased, we have learned that it can be an effective therapy for other conditions. So we aren’t surprised by research that shows ACT could help some chronic pain patients by changing their perceptions of pain.

Here at Lone Star Pain Medicine, our primary goal is to help patients experience less pain so that their quality of life increases. We invite chronic pain patients from throughout the Weatherford, TX area to pay us a visit at our clinic. We offer the latest chronic pain treatments along with sound medical advice and genuine compassion. We want what is best for you, even if that is ACT.

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