When most people think of chronic pain, they focus on physical treatment. We seek out doctors who can prescribe medications or do procedures. Those options can be really helpful, and different treatments and pain-management methods can make a big difference in how you feel.
But it’s important not to overlook the mind-body connection when it comes to chronic pain. In order to effectively treat pain that has become chronic, you need to focus on how your brain interprets pain signals. When you have a better understanding of that connection, you can manage your pain with treatment options like therapy, in addition to physical treatment solutions.
So, how can therapy help with chronic pain? What’s the connection between the mind and body, and what can you do about it?
Pain Starts in the Brain
When you experience any kind of pain, your first response is likely to treat that specific area. If you have a headache, you take aspirin. If you scrape your knee, you put a band-aid on it.
But the feeling of pain itself doesn’t come from whatever body part is experiencing it. It comes from your brain. That’s especially important to understand when you’re dealing with chronic pain and trying to keep it under control.
The brain uses pain as a protective response. If it’s used enough in that way, it will become a pattern, and your mind will become conditioned to continue that response even if there is no injury associated with it. Simply put, pain is a learned response.
That can be a hard thing for someone with chronic pain to hear. But, it doesn’t mean the pain is in your head or that you are imagining it. You’re not choosing to experience pain, nor are you manifesting it with some kind of purposeful intention.
Instead, it’s more likely your brain has gotten used to some type of pain, so it’s perpetuating a cycle. The more pain you’re in, the more you’re going to think about that pain. As a result, the worse it will feel until it impacts every area of your life.
When we start to become hypervigilant around pain, it just increases our experience of pain.
What Can Therapy Do?
When you understand how the body and brain are connected, you can use therapy to manage your pain and break free from that cycle.
We use a technique called Pain Reprocessing Therapy to help those with chronic pain manage their symptoms. This type of therapy involves training your brain to respond differently to the pain signals that are perpetuating the pain cycle.
With chronic pain, but your brain perceives that there is an emergency, even when there is not. Pain reprocessing therapy teaches you to react more calmly to those feelings of pain and recognize that it is safe.
For example, if you’re dealing with chronic pain from a migraine, this type of therapy will allow you to reprocess the way your brain responds. If a sudden shot of pain goes through your head, it may still hurt. But, by understanding that it’s not as catastrophic as your brain naturally wants you to think, it will become more manageable. Plus, you’ll be more in control. Because pain reprocessing therapy can also improve your overall wellbeing, it can make your symptoms feel weaker and take away some of their power.
We’ve been conditioned for so long to focus on the physical side of pain. But it’s time to understand how chronic pain develops, and the role the brain plays in this process. If you’re still unsure about how therapy can help with chronic pain, feel free to contact us for a consultation or to set up an appointment. You don’t have to feel debilitated every day due to chronic pain. Together, we can help you regain control.