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Ongoing chronic pain is highly complex and requires a multi-pronged approach, possibly including medication, physical therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy.13 Medication may be necessary in the short-term to manage acute pain and should be done in consultation with a general practitioner or a pain management specialist. Physical therapy may allow for temporary relief of pain and the strengthening of specific parts of the body to better support the painful area. Cognitive behavioural therapy refers to the treatment of psychological distress associated with long term pain.14 In the process of cognitive behavioural therapy, a person will learn new ways of behaving when it comes to their pain, rather than the negative and often very troubling thoughts that can come with chronic pain.
Anxiety and insomnia are complex conditions which are difficult to treat through the sole use of medications. Similar to long-term pain management, treatments other than benzodiazepines require a multi-pronged approach, including tapering and cognitive behavioural therapy. Tapering is important for people who have been using benzodiazepines for a long time. It requires the person to gradually reduce the amount of the drug consumed before stopping.6 Cognitive behavioural therapy addresses the underlying causes of anxiety and provides an opportunity for the person to better manage stressful situations without ongoing medication.6
There is some early research exploring the potential use of mindfulness techniques to manage pain and mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.15 Mindfulness is where a person pays deliberate attention to specific bodily functions when they are experiencing pain or anxiety. This attention is intended to provide a new perspective on their pain. Through this perspective, the intention is to reduce the level of discomfort both physically and emotionally. Early research suggests that mindfulness may have a positive effect and could form an important part of treatment. However, further research is required to understand the strength in this approach and potential long-term effects.15