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Why Integrated Behavioral Healthcare is Important in Pain Management

April 13, 2023
Integrated Behavioral Healthcare
By integrating pain management and behavioral healthcare, our clinicians help patients relieve pain as efficiently as possible. 

What is integrated behavioral healthcare and how does it apply to pain management? To understand the answers, we must first recognize that pain isn’t just a physical condition, it’s also an emotional one.  

Suffering from chronic pain and other chronic health issues can leave a person feeling hopeless, demoralized, and disempowered. This, in turn, can lead to anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, and even anger.  

People suffering from chronic pain may not realize that treating physical pain symptoms goes hand-in-hand with treating emotional distress. Treating one or the other can certainly make a big difference in one’s pain experience. Research shows treating both physical pain and comorbid emotional issues has an even greater positive effect. 

That’s why pain management programs like the one offered at KindlyMD go above and beyond treating only the physical symptoms of pain. When a patient visits us for pain treatment, we include a behavioral health clinician (BHC) in the discussion. 

The BHC can help you develop a number of strategies to meet your healthcare goals. The pain clinician can prescribe pharmaceuticals or recommend plant-based alternative medicine, if appropriate. Together, this coordinated care team can help you address your pain through multiple avenues. 

We want to note that the behavioral health portion of a KindlyMD clinic visit is not a replacement for traditional therapy. Patients suffering from PTSD, depression, or other mental health problems would likely benefit from full-length therapy sessions, which we can also arrange. 

A pain management program that integrates behavioral healthcare can help you return to a healthy and happy lifestyle.

Goals and Benefits of Integrated Behavioral Healthcare in Pain Management

The experience of pain differs from person to person, and it can have a wide variety of negative effects on each person’s life. We mentioned some of the negative emotional effects above, but consider that pain can also: 

  • prevent or inhibit the achievement of personal goals  
  • affect the ability to work, possibly leading to financial instability  
  • prevent or limit daily routines and day-to-day living 

Good pain management programs focus on pain relief and improving the patient’s quality of life and ability to function. This means we’re attacking the pain problem from multiple angles and achieving multiple positive results. By integrating pain management and behavioral healthcare, our clinicians help patients relieve pain as efficiently as possible. 

Taking Charge of Your Own Pain Management Goals

We think it’s important to listen to our patient’s healthcare goals and present them with a personalized “menu” of treatment options. We want our patients to be actively involved in the process of setting achievable health goals. Some of the best quality of life improvements come from choosing an outcome you desire, followed by setting reasonable goals to help you get there. 

After all, you are the one in charge of your healthcare. Unless someone else acts as your healthcare proxy, it’s ultimately your decision to seek healthcare and carry out your treatment plan. 

Once a person suffering from chronic pain makes an appointment with a pain clinic, he or she has already demonstrated a sense of empowerment. If the pain clinicians do their job well, that patient will leave the clinic feeling even more empowered. Patients visiting KindlyMD can expect that level of service. 

Integrated Behavioral Healthcare
Behavioral health clinicians teach patients to manage stress, solve problems, set goals, and be assertive about reducing pain.

Integrated Behavioral Healthcare Strategies for Pain Management

Everyone suffering from chronic pain has a unique experience with the condition. Apart from the physical source(s) of pain, quite a few factors influence a person’s pain experience. 

“For example, sex, age, and ethnic group differences in the prevalence of chronic pain conditions have been widely reported,” wrote Dr. Roger Fillingim in a study called “Individual Differences in Pain: Understanding the Mosaic that Makes Pain Personal.” 

Fillingim is a clinical psychologist who researches pain and the different ways people experience it. His study also mentions genetic and psychosocial factors can shape a person’s pain experience. 

Since pain can differ so greatly from one person to another, it makes sense that the most effective treatment plans are tailored to each individual. 

One of the most common ways to create a customized pain treatment plan is through cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). As far as pain management goes, CBT is most helpful for patients who feel helpless about their pain situations. Such patients often believe their pain makes them unable to function. 

Behavioral health clinicians help patients realize that they can, in fact, improve their lives by developing and practicing certain skills. For example, BHCs can teach patients about managing stress, solving problems, setting goals, and being assertive about reducing pain.  
Once again, the advice a BHC gives is not generalized, but personalized for each patient’s unique situation and goals. With a little dedication and practice, the skills your BHC helps you develop will last a lifetime and maximize your pain relief. 

If you or someone you know suffers from chronic pain, we want to help you find relief, starting right now. Click here or call us at 385-388-8220 to schedule a pain clinic appointment.  

By David Wells
Content Producer & Analyst at KindlyMD
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