Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a type of talk therapy that focuses on the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Studies have shown that CBT can help to reduce pain, improve function and quality of life, and decrease the need for pain medication.

How does CBT work?

CBT works by addressing the psychological and emotional aspects of chronic pain, which can play a significant role in how a person experiences and manages their pain. 

By learning coping strategies and pain management techniques, and identifying and changing negative thought patterns, people with chronic spine pain can learn to better manage their pain and improve their overall well-being.

What are some techniques used in CBT?

The therapy may include techniques such as:

  • Relaxation techniques: such as deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness
  • Goal-setting: setting short-term and long-term goals for managing pain, and tracking progress
  • Activity pacing: learning how to balance rest and activity to avoid over-exertion
  • Cognitive restructuring: identifying and challenging negative thoughts and beliefs about pain
  • Sleep hygiene: learning strategies to improve the quality of sleep
  • Problem-solving: learning how to effectively manage and solve problems related to pain

CBT is typically used in conjunction with other treatments such as medication, physical therapy, and interventional procedures to manage spine pain. 

It is important to work with a therapist who is trained and has experience in CBT for chronic pain management.

About the Author

Dave Harrison, MD

Dr. Harrison is a board certified Emergency Physician with a part time appointment at San Francisco General Medical Center and is an Assistant Clinical Professor-Volunteer at the UCSF School of Medicine. Dr. Harrison attended medical school at Tufts University and completed his Emergency Medicine residency at the University of Southern California. Dr. Harrison manages the editorial process for