Dr. David B. Adams – Psychological Blog

Psychology of Illness, Pain, Anxiety and Depression

Handling the Truth

It is often uncertain as to how many back injured patients understand or are capable of understanding their complaints. They actually seem offended by their diagnostic information and distrustful that it is even accurate.”

Dr. Adams: At the request of an orthopedic surgeon, I recently saw a patient who had two prior, unsuccessful back surgeries. His third surgeon told him that he had significant scar tissue and that further surgery would be counterproductive.

The surgeon recommended that the patient consider conservative care and also at the possibility that he would have to learn to cope with the pain; that the pain may be chronic.

The patient became angered, told me that the surgeon was “not being positive enough”. This meant, in actuality, that the patient was frightened by the information and was blaming the messenger (surgeon) for the message.

We talk about psychological diagnosis, but I should note that the goal of PSYCHOLOGICAL CARE with back-injured workers is to insure that they:

a. truly understand their condition,

b. realize their capacities not just their limitations,

c. seek some degree of productivity for their lives and

d. learn not to be frightened by (and avoidant of) their pain.

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