There is a difference between acute pain and chronic pain. The acute pain you [...]
Chronic Pain: What is Chronic Pain?
When pain lasts a long time, it is called chronic pain. This type of pain is often caused by an illness or injury. Some doctors consider pain to be chronic when it lasts one month longer than expected, but the general medical definition of chronic pain is ongoing pain that has lasted for six months or longer. Chronic pain may originate with an initial trauma/injury or infection, or there may be an ongoing cause of pain that is specific in nature. However, some people suffer ongoing pain with no evidence of any past injury or other body damage.
The most common sources of prolonged pain stem from headaches, joint pain, and backaches. Other kinds of chronic pain include tendinitis, sinus pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and pain affecting specific parts of the body, such as the shoulders, pelvis, and neck. Generalized muscle or nerve pain can also develop into a chronic condition. The emotional toll of long-term pain also can make the physical pain worse.
Chronic Pain and Brain Function:
Research supporst there is a link between EEG brain activity and the experience of pain. Anxiety, stress, depression, anger, and chronic fatigue interact in complex ways with chronic pain and may decrease the brain’s production of natural painkillers; moreover, such negative feelings may increase the brain’s level of substances produced that amplify sensations of pain, causing a vicious cycle of pain for the person. Even the body’s most basic defenses may be compromised: There is considerable evidence that unrelenting pain can suppress the immune system. The qEEG or Brain Map is an assessment tool which indicates the under or overactivity of the electrical impulses of the brain which are causing chronic pain.
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Chronic Pain and Common Symptoms:
- Mild to severe pain that does not go away
- Pain that may be described as shooting, burning, aching, or electrical
- Feeling of discomfort, soreness, tightness, or stiffness
Pain is not a symptom that exists alone. Other associated problems may include:
- Withdrawal from activity and increased need to rest
- Weakened immune system
- Chronic Fatigue
- Changes in mood including hopelessness, fear, depression, irritability, anger, anxiety, and stress
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Chronic Pain: Case Study
Jane had undergone knee replacement surgery 15 years ago. After 6 months, her pain was still at a 6 on a scale of 1-10. Despite heavy medication, she was unable to be fully bear weight on her knee and required a cane. Because of this Chronic Pain, she also became dependent upon these medications, so when they were reduced, the pain came back even stronger.
She became increasingly depressed and anxious and felt her life “slipping away” over the years. With her physician’s assistance, they discovered neurofeedback, which uses state of the art digital technology to monitor and train the brain. The only way to deal with the self-reinforcing cycle of chronic pain is to redefine the way the brain interprets nerve impulses and allow its sensitivity to return to normal levels. Recent clinical outcomes indicate that the technique of neurofeedback can be used to break the pain cycle which leads to a major decrease in chronic pain.
With the assistance of her doctor, neurofeedback, and weekly counseling sessions, Jane was able to stop taking narcotics. Shortly thereafter, she began neurofeedback and within a few months was able to walk without her cane. As she continued in therapy, her depression and anxiety lifted and she began exercising again. She is now able to run without pain and only has a little pain sometimes at night.
The key to this remarkable effectiveness of neurofeedback in dealing with chronic pain is not the hardware or software, but rather the brain’s ability to learn to reorganize and maintain its own balanced state. Neurofeedback is simply the most advanced way of retraining the brain, and it now offers new hope to sufferers of chronic pain.
Of course, not every patient who undergoes neurofeedback training experiences this drastic of change. However, we do find improved outcomes in approximately 85 to 90 percent of our clients. Consistency in treatment and a positive attitude are important for success.