If you suffer chronic pain, it might be time to dial up some pain relief. Speaking to someone over the telephone is certainly not one of the most-talked-about pain relief techniques out there, but a new study says that it could lead to excellent results.
It’s called “cognitive behavioral therapy” (CBT) and, done over the phone with trained therapists, it helped patients in pain feel “better” or “very much better.” The study was funded by Arthritis Research UK and was the first-ever to use phone-delivered CBT for people with chronic, widespread pain.
CBT helps people manage their pain by identifying and evaluating thoughts and behavior. The type of pain these patients experienced is much like that of fibromyalgia, which is extremely difficult to treat. Many sufferers are forced to give up work as a result of constant pain and become increasingly isolated and frustrated. Although CBT can be very effective, it is limited by the fact that you need a lot of hours between patient and therapist.
But — the phone could make things much easier and less expensive. The study involved 442 patients between 25 and 60 years old, with the aim being to find better ways to reduce painful symptoms. Persistent pain across the body is not easily managed by painkillers and inflicts a cruel impact on one’s quality of life.
In the trial, patients were split into four groups: one doing exercise; a second receiving CBT; a third receiving a combination of both; and a fourth group given the “usual care” by their doctor. (The people in the exercise group were offered six fitness instructor-led monthly appointments and were recommended to exercise between 20 and 60 minutes a day with increasing intensity over the six-month period.)
Researchers assessed patients at six months when treatment was over, and again three months after that. Patients completed questionnaires about their health and pain levels. They found that telephone CBT and exercise were both associated with substantial, statistically significant, clinically meaningful improvements.
Exercise was not a surprise, but the main focus was on whether CBT could be effectively delivered over the phone lines. The results show that, yes, indeed it can. If you believe this could be of use to you, speak to your doctor or contact your local arthritis organization for information on how to begin with CBT.
Need more ways to battle pain? Read the article Six Best Natural Pain Relievers