CRPS/RSD Sufferers Can Learn to Rephrase Pain

In a medical context, words are more than mere puffs of air – they are neurological events. The McGill Pain Index, one of the most widely used pain assessment systems, relies completely on verbal descriptions to diagnose the severity of someone’s pain, and ranks CRPS/RSD as the most painful form of chronic pain existing today.

Given how important language can be to pain sufferers, clinicians go to great lengths to use appropriate terms, and can typically spot patients at high risk for disability simply by carefully listening to how they describe their pain.

Treating CRPS/RSD usually involves various health professionals, including pain specialists, psychologists and other mental health experts. One of the treatments suggested might involve psychotherapy to help CRPS/RSD sufferers control their pain without the use of medication, and teach them to cope with it both emotionally and physically.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and CRPS/RSD

Those with complex regional pain syndrome/reflex sympathetic dystrophy (CRPS/RSD) can learn to rephrase their inner monologue to become more realistic and supportive toward their pain – not necessarily easy to do, but nevertheless a significant way to help them live with their pain. This is the basis of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a form of psychotherapy that aims to change unhelpful thinking behaviors regarding chronic pain.

The main focus of CBT is on how chronic pain sufferers think and act now, rather than on what has happened in the past. The core principles of CBT are:

  • Identifying negative or false thoughts and beliefs, and
  • Testing or restructuring them

Studies have shown that CBT is an effective treatment of a variety of illnesses, including depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, schizophrenia, and chronic pain conditions like CRPS/RSD. Cognitive behavioral therapy for CRPS/RSD can help those with chronic pain alter the way they think, which will then alter how they actually feel and cope with their pain.


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Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) is a serious medical condition that causes chronic, debilitating pain. For those who suffer from it more