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Psychological Interventions for Spinal Health

Coping with Pain and Improving Quality of Life

Psychological interventions for people with spinal health problems focus on changing beliefs and behaviors. The general idea is that even when pain cannot be cured, there is still much that can be done to cope better and manage the condition in a way that leads to a better quality of life.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for Spinal Health

Although such interventions are sometimes referred to as 'talk therapies,' they often include quite a lot of 'doing,' ranging from rethinking one's pain, how it affects life and relationships, and all the way to trying out new behaviors and ways of interacting with others. The most common form of psychological intervention is based on a Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Patients are often encouraged to describe their most feared automatic thoughts and to become aware of thinking patterns and behaviors that are unhelpful. They are then guided through plans to change these thought patterns and behaviors and supported through their attempts to change how they behave in real life.

Coping with Depression in Spinal Health

Depression is a low mood, including a tendency to cry, have dark thoughts, feelings of guilt and even of despair. People with depression often experience difficulty sleeping and tend to restrict their activities. They find it hard to concentrate and make decisions and sometimes report changes in appetite and weight. When people have pain, it is often the case that they get distressed and worried, and they may feel isolated, hopeless and helpless. While these feelings and thoughts are not necessarily an indication of a diagnosis of depression (a mental disorder), they have been shown to form obstacles to better coping and recovery. When patients with pain experience these types of emotions for a long time, or when they feel overwhelmed by their emotions, it is useful to seek clinical help.

Overcoming Fear and Avoidance in Spinal Health

Many people who experience pain worry that they might do something or move in a way that will make their pain worse, or even cause damage (kinesiophobic). Sometimes people guard their movements or even avoid activity and exercise because of these fears. There is some evidence that suggests that for some disorders, such as LBP, this type of behavior can actually be an obstacle to recovery, and the recommendation is that patients stay as active as they can. Sometimes these fears can be addressed simply by discussing them with clinicians, such as general practitioners, physiotherapists or nurses. However, some people find it very difficult to change their beliefs and behaviors, and other interventions may be prescribed. These include Behavioral therapies such as CBT.

EUROSPINE is a society of spine specialists of various disciplines with a large knowledge of spine pathologies. All well-known and accepted treatment modalities for spine pathologies are represented by the members of the society. However, the Society cannot accept any responsibility for the use of the information provided; the user and their health care professionals must retain responsibility for their health care management.

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