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Pain management versus coping

Paul Ingraham ARCHIVEDMicroblog posts are archived and rarely updated. In contrast, most long-form articles on PainScience.com are updated regularly over the years.

Another “versus” post! It’s turning into a series.

Chronic pain “management” involves partial or temporary symptom relief. The more the better, wherever and however you can get it.

Coping” and “acceptance” are learning to live with and work around symptoms, reducing their impact and reducing suffering (distinct from pain), and living better in spite of symptoms. (This is often known these days as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, ACT, a spinoff from Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, CBT. Too many acronyms!)

There’s some overlap between these things, of course. The terms are informal, plenty of wiggle room, and everyone puts their own spin on them. But I want to highlight that basic distinction between partially effective treatment and symptom harm reduction — both valuable concepts for chronic pain patients, regardless of how we label them.

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