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Fibromyalgia & Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

office-594132_1920What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and how does it relate to fibromyalgia?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is talking therapy that helps patients manage problems by changing the way they think and behave. It’s commonly used to treat anxiety, depression and other mental and physical symptoms, like chronic pain linked to conditions such as fibromyalgia. In this article, we identify what CBT is and explain how it relates to fibromyalgia patients.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) 

CBT is based on the notion that a person’s thoughts, feelings, physical sensations and actions are all connected. When a negative element enters this ecosystem it creates a ripple effect; impacting their entire being and trapping them in a vicious cycle. Therapists pinpoint and break down key factors that initiate and progress this pattern.

CBT is minimising chronic pain

CBT has been shown to improve outcomes for patients with fibromyalgia, and its cardinal feature chronic pain. CBT aids in the development of coping skills that minimise the sufferers awareness of the pain, so it doesn’t feel as severe even if the actual level of pain stays the same. Several studies show CBT to be the most effective psychological treatment for fibromyalgia patients; it’s different from most talking therapies, since CBT deals with current problems rather than solving issues from the past.

New research into preventing fibromyalgia with CBT

A clinical trial soon to commence in the UK will be the first of its kind focusing on preventing chronic widespread pain (CWP) in people at high-risk of developing fibromyalgia. It stems out of the influx of scientific research supporting CBT as a coping mechanism for fibromyalgia sufferers. The trial titled, “The Maintaining Musculoskeletal Health (MAmMOTH) Study: Protocol for a randomised trial of cognitive behavioural therapy versus usual care for the prevention of chronic widespread pain”, will be performed by researchers at the University of Aberdeen. The university is currently using a primary care database to approach patients. To be considered, patients must have sought medical care for their pain and face two of these additional issues; sleep problems, maladaptive behaviour response to illness, or a high number of somatic symptoms.

The trial aims to analyse data from 946 participants by performing an initial assessment followed by six CBT sessions to be delivered once a week. Booster sessions will also be held at three and six months into the study, with a follow up questionnaire conducted at 12 and 24 months. Researchers are hopeful results will guide future treatments and provide insight into the disease.

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