Reducing Patients’ Avoidance of Pain May Help Them in Exposure Therapy, Study Finds

Reducing Patients’ Avoidance of Pain May Help Them in Exposure Therapy, Study Finds
Strategies to reduce avoidance behavior in people with fibromyalgia can help them achieve better results from exposure therapy, a study shows. The study, “Approach as a key for success: Reduced avoidance behaviour mediates the effect of exposure therapy for fibromyalgia,” was published in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy. Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain disorder that can lead to functional impairment and high levels of distress, which in turn can severely affect patients’ overall health and quality of life. To date, it remains unclear what causes or which mechanisms are involved in driving the constant pain sensation in fibromyalgia patients. This uncertainty has made it difficult for researchers to find effective strategies to tackle the symptoms associated with this chronic illness. While medications are usually insufficient to manage fibromyalgia pain, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) has shown some promise. The goal of CBT is to change negative thought patterns and teach patients how to cope with pain. One CBT strategy is the fear-avoidance model that suggests that “pain-related fear elicits avoidance of physical activity and hypervigilance toward pain symptoms,” which in turn results in increased functional disability and more pain. To help address this avoidance behavior in fibromyalgia patients, Swedish researchers developed a strategy. The protocol required systematic and repeated exposure to external and internal stimuli that could r
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