Health Coaching

Can Health Coaching Help Chronic Pain?

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As of 2020, 30-40% of adults in the United States suffered from chronic pain – an amount higher than the number of Americans living with heart disease, cancer or diabetes. Defined as any sort of persistent or recurrent pain that lasts longer than three months, chronic pain can be completely life altering and debilitating. Biological health, psychological health and social health are all heavily impacted by presence of this prolonged pain, and because of this, it often takes treatment from multiple types of providers to see improvement.

Recent research has looked to see if health coaching may be an effective addition to the care team of those with chronic pain. Health coaching focuses on creating lasting change through achievable goals and accountability in a non-judgmental space. The value of health coaching has already been proven, as research has demonstrated that health coaching often has positive health effects on participants with other chronic conditions like diabetes or cardiovascular disease. Hypothetically, health coaching also makes sense as a treatment method for chronic pain due to this proven success, it’s focus on personal values and goals, and it’s sensitivity towards anxieties, depression and stress.

But can health coaching stand up to the hypothetical? In a recent study, scientists at Duke University and the Rocky Mountain University of Health enrolled over 400 people with chronic pain to test the effectiveness of health and wellness coaching on chronic pain reduction.  The results of the research showed that not only did patients report better psychological health factors, but reported that the pain itself was lower after six months and even lower after 12 months. Furthermore, patients reported better mobility and vitality as well as fewer negative effects from their chronic pain after the program.

An especially intriguing part of the study was that participants were not told about the focus on chronic pain and the health coaching program did not directly emphasize pain intensity. This suggests that results are not due to a specific focus on pain reduction, but rather health coaching itself. These results are incredibly promising for those with chronic pain as another means of reducing pain throughout the day. Furthermore, this research only adds to the ever-growing value of health coaching.

We here at Empowered Health believe in acceptance based care that works to Empower people to take wellness into their own hands. If you are interested in trying health coaching, learn more here!

Erika Zink, NBC-HWC

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Time between patient and physician is dictated increasingly by the health system and insurance reimbursement. At Empowered Health, we take a membership approach to primary care in Tri-Cities that challenges the standard healthcare model.

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