See how behavior and emotions impact chronic pain

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – The University of Utah Center on Mindfulness and Integrative Health Intervention Development, or C-MIND, is conducting research on behavioral treatment options for chronic pain. Dr. Eric Garland, Presidential Scholar, Professor and Associate Dean for Research at the University of Utah College of Social Work says studies show behavioral programs can change how pain is processed in the brain and can actually reduce pain.

C-MIND is providing free behavioral programs for people with chronic pain who are taking opioid pain medicine as part of several multi-million dollar, federal research grants funded by agencies including the National Institutes of Health. 

Behavioral programs like mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy, and group support can help reduce pain in several ways, says Dr. Garland. Science shows that pain is influenced by thoughts and feelings; for example, when you are stressed, this can significantly increase pain through mechanisms in the brain. By teaching people to change their thoughts and emotional reactions, behavioral programs can change the way the brain functions, making pain hurt less. Also, receiving social support can help people cope with pain and improve overall quality of life, says Dr. Garland.

Behavioral programs can also help people who take opioids for chronic pain, Dr. Garland says. Some patients get all the relief they need from opioids, while other patients find that opioids take the edge off the pain but still do not achieve sufficient pain relief. Behavioral programs can provide needed additional pain relief and, for people who want to reduce their dependence on opioids, help them to decrease their opioid dose, says Dr. Garland.

For more information about the research and the studies being done at the University of Utah C-MIND call 801.834-5748 or email UtahPainStudy@gmail.com.

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