Doing Life Together

Doing Life Together

Real Pain, But No Solution?

ID-10043596“Hey doc, I have this pain in my back and I don’t know why?”

Chances are, your doctor may not know either.

One study (2011, 620 German primary-care patients,  Journal of Psychosomatics) estimates that up to two-thirds of patient pain complaints are unexplained.  Other reports seem to confirm this idea that pain can’t always be explained. In part, this may be due to patients having more serious psychiatric illness or somatic disorders (involve anxiety) that are not always front and center.


The most common symptoms of unexplained pain are headaches, back pain, fatigue, abdominal pain, and dizziness.  The goal in working with these symptoms isn’t necessarily to remit the pain, but help people live with it. We know that paying attention to symptoms can often make them feel worse.

And sometimes these symptoms are what we call “health seeking behavior” meaning something more psychological may be going on and needs to be treated. In fact, a 2006 study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that 60% of patients who averaged 13 visits to their doctor in a year had underlying major depression.

What helps is cognitive behavioral therapy and relaxation training. These can ease symptoms and improve a person’s mental health, as well as reduce the number of doctor visits. The goal in using these approaches is to help a person rethink his/her beliefs about pain and learn to distract from the pain.

In reality, most people live with unexplained pain and can still be in good health. So even though you can’t always explain away pain, you can still learn to reduce your anxiety over it, not ruminate over it and distract yourself from making the symptoms worse.

Previous Posts

Fighting? How You are Hurting Your Kids
Jack and Rachel have been in a contentious marriage for quite some time. Their friends would describe them as a high conflict couple. The stress is getting to their two middle school children who beg their parents to stop fighting and try to ...

posted 7:00:50am Oct. 09, 2015 | read full post »

What It Really Takes to Stop School Shootings
When I listen to any political person rail against guns as a fix for school shootings, I get upset. The focus in wrong and yet it persists and dominates headlines. This tells me there is a lack of real concern to address violence in our ...

posted 9:00:08am Oct. 07, 2015 | read full post »

What's At the Root of Your Procrastination?
Most of us know the feeling of procrastination. It often goes like this: I know I have to complete that project by the end of week. Nothing in me wants to do it. I'll go to the gym. Exercise will relax me and help me concentrate better. ...

posted 7:00:59am Oct. 05, 2015 | read full post »

Get Control of that Anger
Are you easily angered? Do you have a low tolerance for frustration. Does any little thing annoy and frustrate you? Are you tired of feeling out of control? If so, consider this. Some children seem to be born more edgy and irritable. They ...

posted 7:00:34am Oct. 02, 2015 | read full post »

Who Made You the Boss?
Have you ever had that moment when you thought or said, "Who made you the boss?" Someone in authority or a leader makes a decision and you think you know better. If we are honest, this happens all the time. Yet, in most cases, we have no ...

posted 7:00:43am Sep. 30, 2015 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.