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Chronic Pain Treatment: Jan Tomakowsky, PhD

Birmingham Maple Clinic was pleased to welcome Jan Tomakowsky, PhD of the Women’s Urology Center at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, MI to the clinic for a lecture on treating chronic pain on Friday May 9, 2014.

Jan reviewed chronic pain conditions such as back pain, migraines, fibromyalgia, and pelvic pain. Jan defined chronic pain as pain lasting 3 months minimally but 6 months or more most commonly. Jan stressed that pain conditions are not merely biomedical but are, in fact, biopsychosocial and are influenced by multiple factors in a person’s life. She said “Pain conditions reflect psychological—emotional, cognitive, and behavioral—and social components that influence the individual’s experience of pain and their responses to it.”

Dr. Tomakowsky identified psychological, emotional and social issues associated with pain such as helplessness, depression, anxiety, grief related to losses of functioning or changes in roles, changes in sexual functioning, occupational and financial problems and substance abuse. She also identified PTSD or a trauma history as strongly linked to the experience of and response to pain.

Jan explained theories underlying pain interventions and identified cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) as the “gold standard” for psychological treatment of pain. She also supplied research that shows CBT modalities are effective in both reducing pain and increasing functioning in chronic pain patients. She reported that this treatment may be as effective as medical treatments. She instructed that the behavioral component of CBT focus on pacing and moderation, distraction and shifting attention, relaxation and breathing, and mindfulness or meditation. The cognitive component should reduce rumination as rumination is strongly linked to depression, especially in women. Cognitive therapies should also address improving acceptance and problem solving skills.

Jan recognized that other psychological treatments are also important in the treatment of pain such as family or relationship counseling to address the interpersonal consequences of pain and problem solving around changing family roles. Psychodynamic and expressive therapies were also recommended.

Many therapists at Birmingham Maple Clinic have specific training and expertise in treating chronic pain issues as well as other medical conditions that impact a person’s mental health and daily functioning. Therapists who attended the seminar shared personal and professional experiences in the treatment of pain and its associated mental health consequences.  If you are experiencing anxiety or depression related to your health issue you may value from speaking to a skilled therapist. To schedule an appointment at Birmingham Maple Clinic visit www.birminghammaple.com or call (248) 646-6659. To learn more about the pain clinic at the Women’s Urology Center at Beaumont Royal Oak call (248) 898-0898.