Have you ever had someone tell you the pain you might be feeling everyday is all in your mind? According to a new study published in the journal Pain, those who suffer from chronic pain in their day-to-day lives might experience better sleep and less discomfort during the day by training themselves to spend less time dwelling on their pain.

Led by Luis F. Buenaver, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the study specifically concentrated on a neurological pathway that directly links poor sleep to an individual’s negative thinking about their chronic pain, thereby increasing their pain in the end. Research suggests that about 80 percent of those who experience chronic pain are also suffering from disturbed sleep.

Happy Thoughts vs. Treatment

The study focused on 214 people, each suffering from myofascial temporomandibular disorder (TMD). The participants were, for the most part, Caucasian females with a mean age of 34. After undergoing a dental exam to ensure that each participant was afflicted with TMD, participants were asked to fill out a questionnaire assessing levels of depression, sleep quality, pain levels and emotional responses to that pain. It was later found that those participants who had a particularly negative emotional response to their chronic TMD pain had a harder time sleeping through the night, and ultimately felt an increase of pain because of it.

The study suggests that, with a type of behavioral counseling called CBT, those who are experiencing vague or stress-related pain may find some amount of relief, allowing them to sleep easier throughout the night.

Although positive thinking may have a role in pain management, it isn’t likely to help patients suffering from a clinical ailment, such as TMD, also known as TMJ disorder. While some have attributed TMD to stress, the condition is frequently caused by a misaligned bite, causing torque in the jaw joint. Symptoms of TMD also include severe headaches, back and neck pain, and even inner-ear aches. This condition is treatable by a TMJ dentist, and treatments for TMD are invariably more effective than ignoring the pain altogether.

If you are suffering from symptoms relating to TMD and would like to learn about available treatment options, contact Dr. Berry online or call (303) 691-0267 today at his office today to find out what will work well for you.