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The Cure to Your Chronic Pain May Lie in the Brain

    Understanding pain can be a complex and confusing experience. Although we may feel pain in a specific part of our body, it results from a series of complex processes that occur in the brain.

     Pain reprocessing therapy retrains your brain to think differently about pain.

    While pain is usually an accurate indication of an injury or illness, in some cases, our brain can misinterpret signals and create painful sensations even when there is no physical cause for the pain. A prime example of this is phantom limb pain, which occurs when an amputee experiences pain in a limb that is no longer there.

    Chronic pain is another form of pain that is particularly challenging to treat. This type of pain can recur long after an injury has healed, causing ongoing discomfort and affecting a person's quality of life. Traditional treatments for chronic pain have been largely ineffective, in part because the root cause of the pain is often not physical.

    However, recent advances in medical science have led to a new understanding of chronic pain. Instead of focusing solely on the location of the pain, researchers are now looking at how the brain processes pain signals. By better understanding the brain's role in pain, doctors and scientists hope they can develop more effective treatments for chronic pain sufferers.

    Factors that affect pain processing  

    It's interesting to note that fear is one of the factors that can impact how we perceive pain. Dr. Cynthia Thomson, a scientist from the University of the Fraser Valley, has been studying the brain to find new ways of treating chronic pain.

    As someone who suffers from chronic pain herself, Thomson understands the close relationship between pain and fear. While both sensations are meant to be helpful, allowing us to process the world around us and take action to avoid harm, they can also be a double-edged sword. This is because our brains can develop habits that make us more or less likely to detect threats and trigger a pain sensation.

    To truly transform pain science, it's essential to have a deep understanding of fear and pain. If the brain can create the sensation of pain by translating stimuli into the feeling of pain, then anything that affects that translation process can impact the resulting pain messages.

    Besides fear, other factors can affect how patients interpret pain, such as their thoughts, emotions, and relationships. In other words, a patient's overall well-being is the lens through which their brain perceives pain signals.

    In an interview with Fraser Valley Current, Thomson explains that this is due to a patient's nervous system. If someone has been raised in an environment where they were constantly taught to fear everything, their nervous system will be set to detect and watch out for fear all the time. This hypersensitivity can predispose a patient to experiencing chronic pain.  

    Besides fear, other factors can affect how patients interpret pain, such as their thoughts, emotions, and relationships. In other words, a patient's overall well-being is the lens through which their brain perceives pain signals.   

    Pain Reprocessing Therapy  

    If the human brain can subconsciously develop bad habits that cause it to falsely detect certain stimuli as pain, it also means that with proper training, the brain can be retrained to identify pain signals accurately. A treatment called “pain reprocessing therapy” is said to help patients do that.

    Pain reprocessing therapy is a psychological training program designed to teach patients that pain signals don’t always mean the body is injured or harmed. During this therapy, patients learn meditation techniques and the science behind pain. They are also trained to recognize certain triggers that contribute to their chronic pain.

    Thomson herself has experienced the benefits of pain reprocessing therapy. For years, she had been dealing with chronic pain in her back and shoulders. But with this new treatment approach, she was able to identify the role that stress and other emotions played in her pain.

    Now, she says that she has the necessary tools to recognize that when her shoulder and back pain flares up, it usually happens during stressful events in her life. Thomson says that she is currently free of her chronic pain, though it occasionally flares up. Pain reprocessing therapy has helped her recognize the triggers and manage her pain better, leading to a better quality of life.

    Revolutionizing pain science  

    It may seem like a New Age concept, but pain processing therapy has been proven to be effective by a significant study supported by government funding. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in September 2021, compared the efficacy of pain reprocessing therapy on patients suffering from chronic back pain with placebos and typical care techniques. The researchers discovered that pain reprocessing therapy was significantly more effective than other treatment methods.

    If you are interested in learning how to control your chronic pain, there are several wellness clinics in the US that provide pain reprocessing therapy. For instance, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Los Angeles is a good option. Alternatively, you can check out an app called Curable, which has helped many individuals overcome their pain. If you want to learn more about the treatment, please visit painrevolution.org and painreprocessingtherapy.com.