Modern medical approaches to chronic pain have not been dramatically successful. Therefore it is generally assumed that chronic pain will never go away, so the best we can do is to cope with it. Scientific advances in understanding the brain reveal that many times the pain is literally "in the brain." It is critical to recognize when the brain is producing pain.
There are 45 million Americans with migraine and about 10% of those have frequent and severe headaches that are unresponsive to medications and other treatments. Most doctors would describe migraine as a genetic disorder, however this blog presents a different view. A patient with severe migraines is presented and her cure lay in her willingness to reappraise her life.
All pain is a function of the brain, meaning that it is produced by the brain. Either a physical injury or an emotional problem can activate pain. It's up to us to figure out the message that our brains are sending us.
This blog attempts to explain how mindfulness meditation, CBT and ACT can be useful for patients with chronic pain as adjuncts to a mind body approach. This approach was originally developed by Dr. John Sarno and is described here.
Although mindfulness meditation has been shown to positively impact brain functioning and improve anxiety and depression, it has not been as effective for chronic pain. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy are similar in this regard. This blog offers a view of how these interventions can be most useful for patients with chronic pain.
Injections are widely used in the U.S. for chronic back and sciatic pain, yet a careful review of the research supporting this use does not support this practice. This blog presents the scientific data and offers an alternative way of looking at them.
Millions of people suffer with chronic pain and other disorders for which physicians haven't been able to define a clear medical problem or effective treatment. Few patients or doctors are aware that neural pathways can be the cause for their chronic symptoms, as opposed to tissue damage conditions. This distinction is critical and these questions will help sort this out.
While there are certain situations where back surgery can be life-saving, the evidence for operating on people with chronic back or sciatic pain is scant. For those with chronic pain and no evidence of nerve damage, caution is in order as studies have shown that surgery is generally not superior to physical therapy and behavioral therapies.
American undergo the most MRI scans in the world. Reliance on MRI testing not only adds to medical costs, but can cause significant health problems. People without back pain have the same MRI findings, such as bulging or herniated discs and degenerative changes, as those with back pain. MRI's can lead to unnecessary and potentially dangerous medical procedures.
We think of back pain as being caused by an injury to the back. But a combination of stress and exposure can create the right condition for back pain. And this phenomenon is much more common than you might think.
Most people are aware that neuroplasticity is the process by which our brains change. However, many people are not aware that the brain can learn pain. This type of pain is caused by neural pathways and the resulting pain is very real. It turns out that this process is surprisingly common. More importantly, it’s relatively simple to identify and often easy to treat.
Most doctors have not been exposed to research about the critical role of the brain in chronic pain. When medical testing does not reveal a clear source for pain, a review of past and current life stressors will often uncover the source. It turns out that emotional pain can cause physical pain. And this type of pain is every bit as real as physically induced pain.
Modern medicine fails many people with chronic pain and other conditions for which there is no simple technological fix. Many doctors now understand that taking the time to listen carefully to the whole story can make all the difference.