Researchers trying to help patients “unlearn” back pain | CBS News
“Changes in the brain cause the pain to persist. Basically, the brain learns the pain. What we tried to do in this study was teach people how to unlearn the pain.” – Yoni Ashar, PhD, Lead author of the JAMA Psychiatry RCT
A New Way to Treat Back Pain | The Wall Street Journal
“After an injury, brain circuits can become hypersensitive to prevent you from getting hurt again. That’s helpful while you’re recovering but once the injury is healed, chronic pain can persist because the brain is sending out false alarms, presuming danger when there is none. You can get stuck in this hypersensitive phase,” says Tor Wager, psychology and neuroscience professor at Dartmouth College and author of the 2022 JAMA Psychiatry study.
Behavioral Therapy Helps Alleviate Chronic Back Pain | Healthline
A secondary analysis of clinical trial data shows that Pain Reprocessing Therapy significantly reduces pain intensity and fear avoidance behaviors by increasing mind- or brain-related attributed causes of pain.
“Negative thoughts and emotions can worsen chronic pain, but the reverse is also true — positive thoughts and emotions can relieve pain.”
Maladaptive Body Awareness and Central Sensitization | NCBI
“Maladaptive body awareness [is] characterized as a tendency to respond to bodily sensation with beliefs of catastrophic outcomes or to apprise bodily sensations as a threat to bodily integrity. Maladaptive body awareness is thought to enhance hypersensitivity in central pain processing through activation of limbic brain regions, which contributes to and sustains central sensitization.”
“Congruent with the fear-avoidance model of pain, hypervigilance and pain catastrophizing gives rise to pain-related fear and anxiety, as well as associated safety seeking behaviors such as avoidance/escape, which can paradoxically exacerbate persistent pain.”
Why Americans Feel More Pain | The New York Times
“We tend to misperceive chronic pain simply as pain that lasts longer. Acute pain typically has a specific anatomical source — such as the shock you feel when you touch a hot stove — while chronic pain sometimes, not always, originates in the brain rather than the body.
Think of the brain as the control panel for a pain alarm system that mostly protects the body from injury — but sometimes goes haywire. It can blare like a home alarm system that maddeningly thinks a window has been opened when it hasn’t been.”
I Have to Believe This Book Cured My Pain | The New York Times
“Pain can beget more pain. For example, an injury may turn up the volume on your pain response to future injuries. Stress may cause pain to persist long after an injury has healed. And if your back twinges and you start imagining all the ways it could get worse, that fear can magnify your pain, which may lead you to avoid physical activity, which then makes the pain even worse. Experts call this the pain cycle.”
How You Think About Physical Pain Can Make It Worse | National Geographic
The goal of the clinical trial testing pain reprocessing therapy was to reprogram patients’ brains by teaching them that “ongoing agony was not caused by lingering tissue injury, but by misfiring neural circuits related to [their] dread of pain.
One promising area of research is looking at the way “catastrophizing” about pain—thinking it will never get better, that it’s the worst ever, or that it will ruin your life—plays a central role in whether these predictions come true.”
It’s Time To Rethink the Origins of Pain | Scientific American
“MRIs, while reliable indicators of injury, are not reliable indicators of pain. A review of studies that involved scanning images from about 3,000 people with no symptoms of back pain found that in 20-year-olds without any back pain, 37% had disc degeneration, and 30% had disc bulges. These abnormalities should cause pain, but for these people, they didn’t. These abnormalities that show up in medical scans only increase with age, as 96% of 80-year-olds had disk degeneration and 84% had bulges. Even in people whose backs hurt, MRI abnormalities have shown absolutely no correlation with their pain—in other words, an MRI doesn’t help us figure out what hurts and what doesn’t.” – Haider Warraich for Scientific American
Will treatment for the mind, body—or both—help? | Harvard Health
“A study evaluating Pain Reprocessing Therapy shows that psychological treatment focused on changing beliefs about the causes and consequences of chronic low back pain may provide substantial, long-lasting pain relief.”
You Can Unlearn Chronic Back Pain | DW
“The latest pain science is showing that the communication between the brain and the body can be corrected and that patients who have spent years, sometimes decades, of their life in pain, can finally overcome it.”
Can Pain Reprocessing Therapy Cure Chronic Pain? | Refinery29
“If a person has chronic neuroplastic pain, it means that somewhere along the way, their relationship with danger and fear has become overactive”, Gordon explains. Pain, he says, is all about perception of danger. It’s part of our threat response, or our fight-or-flight response. PRT is about calming down that threat response. – Lucia Osborne-Crowley for Refinery29
Perceived Injustice in Patients With Chronic Pain | The Journal of Pain
Perceptions of injustice, feelings of anger, feeling misunderstood or stigmatized often drive hypervigilance towards painful sensations. “Higher levels of perceived injustice have been associated with an attentional bias towards pain in people with chronic low back pain, and this bias can amplify the pain experience as well as contribute to avoidance behaviors and long-term disability.“
An Effective New Treatment for Chronic Back Pain Targets the Nervous System | Neuroscience News
“People with back pain are often told their back is vulnerable and needs protecting. This changes how we filter and interpret information from our back and how we move our back. Over time, the back becomes less fit, and the way the back and brain communicate is disrupted in ways that seem to reinforce the notion that the back is vulnerable and needs protecting. The treatment we devised aims to break this self-sustaining cycle,” says Professor McAuley from UNSW’s School of Health Sciences.
Startling New Science Reveals the Truth About Chronic Pain | CNN
“Recognizing that pain is, in fact, worsened by psychological factors makes it no less real.”
When Chronic Pain Becomes Who You Are | Slate Magazine
“For many people like me, it turned out, moving away from pain as an identity isn’t the result of recovery—it’s actually the treatment.” – Isobel Whitcomb for Slate
New Ways to Ease Back Pain | Consumer Reports
“A growing pile of research suggests that talk therapy may help you retrain your brain so that you experience less pain and can cope with it better. This isn’t suggesting that your pain is not real or that it’s ‘all in your head,’ says Tor Wager, PhD.”
After 2 Years of Enduring Chronic Pain, I Tried a Cutting-Edge Therapy To ‘Re-Wire’ My Brain | Well+Good
“I’m working on taking my recovery one day at a time, and PRT is helping me learn to be with okay with myself in the present while still working to rewire my brain responses. And though the idea of ‘taking your life back’ can be clichéd, it’s freeing to me, and restoring my faith in myself” – Jess Freedman on her journey with Pain Reprocessing Therapy
Is the Pain All in My Head? | The Cut
“Pain-reprocessing therapy is one of the only psychological treatments known to cure pain — at least in some patients with nociplastic pain, or pain that occurs in the absence of obvious physical damage.”
A New Approach to Train the Brain to Treat Chronic Pain | Psychology Today
“Pain reprocessing therapy (PRT) is a recent treatment approach based on the premise that the brain can generate pain without injury. Learning and practicing ways to think differently about chronic pain and changing one’s beliefs about it can significantly reduce one’s pain.”
Chronic Pain is Surprisingly Treatable — When Patients Focus on the Brain | The Washington Post
An unexpected therapy shows results.
CU Boulder Research Shows Benefits of Pain Reprocessing Therapy | Denver7
CU Boulder researchers recruited patients to participate in Pain Reprocessing Therapy. Two-thirds of studied participants were pain-free at the end of four weeks.
Psychotherapist Alan Gordon Explains Latest Brain Science Developments in Treating Chronic Pain | The Doctors
Los Angeles Psychotherapist Alan Gordon featured on CBS’ hit TV Show, ‘The Doctors’, explains the brain science behind the neural pathways responsible for chronic pain experienced by millions and why his treatment methods are getting so much attention.