If you are experiencing pain in your body that seems to be unrelated to any kind of injury, disease, or sickness, it’s possible that you may be experiencing psychogenic pain. But what is psychogenic pain, and what causes it? In this blog from Dr. Quintal & Associates Counseling Center, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about psychogenic pain disorder. Let’s get started.
Understanding Psychogenic Pain – The Basics
Psychogenic pain, as the name suggests, is a pain disorder that’s associated with psychological factors – rather than physical problems with your body, such as injuries or a disease. This is where the name “psychogenic” comes from. “Psycho” means “mind” or “soul” in Greek, while “genic” means “related to.”
It’s important to understand that just because psychogenic pain is associated with psychological factors does not mean that it’s real. There are some people who dismiss psychogenic pain because it’s not caused by any physical issues, but to the people who are experiencing it, psychogenic pain is very real.
Just because it’s not associated with any bodily dysfunction doesn’t mean that psychogenic pain is any less real than any other type of pain. The pain feels very real to the person who is experiencing it, and can make it difficult for them to live their day-to-day life, just like any other chronic pain disorder like fibromyalgia, for example.
Common Types Of Psychogenic Pain
Almost any kind of bodily pain can be psychogenic in origin, but there are a few types of pain that are more common than others. This includes:
- Muscle pains
- Back pain
- Stomach pain
Usually, psychogenic pain is associated with other mental or emotional problems. In some cases, these issues may make some kind of existing physical pain worse. A person with an achy back who becomes depressed, for example, may find that their depression worsens their existing back pain.
How Is Psychogenic Pain Diagnosed?
Psychogenic pain is often quite difficult to diagnose. This is because most physicians will first look for physical causes of pain – such as damage to the joints and bones, bodily disorders, disease, and illnesses.
Psychogenic pain can usually only be diagnosed when all other causes of pain are ruled out. For example, if you suffer from constant headaches, your physician may need to scan for tumors, check for jaw issues like TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) and look for other signs of physical illnesses before the pain can be diagnosed as being psychogenic in origin.
The Health & Lifestyle Effects Of Psychogenic Pain
Even though it’s not caused by a physical issue, psychogenic pain can still cause a lot of different health effects and interfere with your lifestyle. Consequences of psychogenic pain include:
- Missed work – In some cases, the pain may be so bad that you may have to take time off of work, which could lead to employment instability and difficulty holding down a consistent job.
- Decreased ability to enjoy your lifestyle – Chronic pain makes everything harder. From exercising, to enjoying your favorite hobbies, parenting your kids, spending time with friends and family, and much more.
- Lots of time spent at the doctor – People who have psychogenic pain often have to spend a lot of time and money seeing various medical professionals in an attempt to get relief from their pain and discomfort.
- Abuse of pain medications – While most doctors won’t prescribe narcotic painkillers like Vicodin or Oxycontin without being certain that they are the right choice, those who suffer from psychogenic pain may seek out these drugs legally or illegally in order to try to deal with their pain and discomfort.
Treating Psychogenic Pain
Treating psychogenic pain can be much more difficult to treat than pain caused by an injury, disease, illness, or another such physical disorder. This is because traditional painkillers are intended to treat physical problems. Anti-inflammatories like aspirin, for example, can help with discomfort caused by inflammation of the joints, and bind to nerve receptors that are responsible for transmitting pain, providing relief.
But psychogenic pain often has no physical cause, which makes it much harder to treat with traditional pain management techniques. Those who suffer from psychogenic pain may need to work with both medical doctors and therapists or mental health professionals to get relief. Treatment may involve things like:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy, counseling, and other forms of psychotherapy
- Alternative medicine like TENS therapy
- Non-narcotic painkillers
- Distraction-based pain management techniques
Need Help? Contact The Dr. Quintal & Associates Counseling Center Today
At the Dr. Quintal & Associates Counseling Center, our team is standing by to discuss your options for relief from psychogenic pain. We specialize in a wide variety of counseling and psychotherapy services, and we understand how scary and debilitating psychogenic pain can be. Contact us now to get a free therapy consultation with one of our counselors, and see how we may be able to help you get relief from your pain.