Ask the Expert: Does Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Work?

Dr. Mark Borigini Health Guide
  • Dear Dr. Borigini:


    Have you heard using Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for treatment of Chronic Pain? I was reading a journal article that spoke about non-pharmacologic management of chronic pain and fibromyalgia. It stated that there was "strong evidence for efficacy" for improvement that is often sustained for months. I did a web search and found information about the therapy but would love to hear from anyone who has heard of this or experienced it themselves.



    Cognitive-behavioral therapies (CBT), according to an article in the March, 2007 edition of "Pain," has been demonstrated to be effective for a variety of chronic pain problems, but patients vary in their response. Unfortunately, it has not been clear what type of patient best benefits from CBT.

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    Researchers therefore undertook a study of patients with chronic temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) pain. It was found that patients who reported more pain sites, depressive symptoms, non-specific physical problems, rumination, and stress before treatment suffered more interference with their daily lives due to the pain. However, CBT was found to help a variety of patients.


    It would certainly be worthwhile to use CBT in different types of chronic pain patients, including fibromyalgia patients. Many therapies for chronic pain are often arrived at through trial and error for any one patient: One fibromyalgia patient will swear by Lyrica, the other might only have had a response to Effexor.


    If CBT can help just one patient who has failed "everything" else, it is certainly worth keeping CBT as part of my armamentarium.




    Important: We hope you find this general medical and health information useful, but this Q&A is meant to support not replace the professional medical advice you receive from your doctor. For all personal medical and health matters, including decisions about diagnoses, medications and other treatment options, you should always consult your doctor. See full Disclaimer.


Published On: September 10, 2007