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Stress and Pain

  • Catherine StoneyEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Chronic pain can affect every aspect of life, from functional disability to social isolation, financial problems, and stress and psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety. However, there are enormous individual differences in how those with pain function; while many chronic pain patients experience relatively low levels of daily functioning, others are able to adapt and function well. For these reasons, an understanding of individual differences in coping strategies, background or consequent psychological stress, and environmental and social resources may help to understand how stress and pain are related. Because pain incorporates both a sensory and emotional component, it is important to understand both when considering assessment and treatment of pain. This chapter will focus specifically on the relationship between pain (both chronic and acute) and psychological stress, but the fundamental message of what follows is that the comorbidity between stress and pain requires careful assessment of psychological, social, and environmental factors when assessing patients in pain and when planning a treatment strategy. Whether the pain specifically increases stress or whether similar amounts of stress are induced by illness in general, stress can increase the experience and perception of pain, the mode and degree of success in coping with the pain, the degree to which patients and healthcare providers can effectively work together, and adherence to and success with treatment.

Abbreviations

CBT

Cognitive behavioral therapy

DHEA

Dehydroepiandrosterone

fMRI

Functional magnetic resonance imaging

HPA

Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal

MRI

Magnetic resonance imaging

OTC

Over-the-counter

PSP

Perceived Stress Scale

PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder

SES

Socioeconomic status

Notes

Disclaimer

The views expressed in this manuscript are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the National Institutes of Health, or the US Department of Health and Human Services.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteThe National Institutes of HealthBethesdaUSA

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