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In Pain? Rewire Your Brain

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In Pain? Rewire Your Brain

Pain comes in many varieties—mental, emotional, physical—the list is practically endless.

One of the most frustrating and debilitating forms of pain is chronic pain.

According to a 2011 report released by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, around 100 million Americans struggle with chronic pain. This figure tops the combined number of people who suffer from cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Unlike acute pain, which lasts for a few hours or days, chronic pain can go on for months—even years—and may, or may not, have a physical cause. Even when the pain does have a traceable explanation (i.e. a torn ligament, or broken bone), discomfort can still persist, long after the injury has fully healed.

Because it often lacks a visible source, chronic pain can be difficult to treat, and its symptoms are often dismissed as being, “imaginary,” or “all in the head.”

The mind-body pain connection

All pain originates in the brain.

When you brush up against the side of the oven, the pain center in your brain is triggered, and a series of nervous system responses eventually results in the searing burn on your arm. But, it isn’t your arm that hurts—it’s your brain. You feel the discomfort in your arm because of the connection that was generated between your mind and your body.

Once a mind-body pain link has been created, it never really goes away and can be re-activated.

“Chronic pain is not something you imagine—it’s an activation of a real mental pathway. It’s as if a switch in your brain gets flipped on and the pain is there,” says David Hanscom, M.D., a spinal surgeon and author of, “Back in Control: A Spine Surgeon’s Roadmap Out of Chronic Pain.”

Read on to discover how to re-program your pain circuits

Related
5 Steps to a Better Night’s Sleep
Sick With Worry: How Your Thoughts Affect Your Health
Just Listen! Your Body is Speaking to You

In Pain? Blame Your Brain originally appeared on AgingCare.com.

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Read more: Anxiety, General Health, Health, Mental Wellness, Stress, , , , , , , ,

By Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor

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AgingCare.com

AgingCare.com connects family caregivers and provides support, resources, expert advice and senior housing options for people caring for their elderly parents. AgingCare.com is a trusted resource that visitors rely on every day to find inspiration, make informed decisions, and ease the stress of caregiving.

77 comments

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6:11AM PST on Feb 28, 2013

Thank you AgingCare, for Sharing this!

6:17AM PST on Jan 17, 2013

thanks for the article, I've been living with chronic pain for almost 10 years, first I was in denial, then I was angry and depressed. When I finally got to the point where I wanted to do whatever I could to get better my attitude change made a big difference. It took a long time to adjust to my limitations. Meditation was one of the biggest keys in helping me cope. And of course the love and patience of my loved ones. The pain is still as severe as it's always been, but I'm learning to live with it without dwelling on it.

12:57AM PST on Jan 16, 2013

I do agree, thanks for shating

7:56AM PST on Jan 13, 2013

Thank you for sharing - we have too many patients who have chronic pain but most of them seem content to be addicted to opioids and don't seem to want to try other therapies which would actually be helpful...

11:13AM PST on Jan 12, 2013

thank you for sharing

5:46AM PST on Jan 10, 2013

I love this article,I am still in pain 13 yrs after my accident,I know it real but doctors ignore it.Pop my max plus extra sometimes,def something wrong big time.

2:21PM PST on Jan 9, 2013

thanks soooo very much! great positive info.

2:18PM PST on Jan 9, 2013

This is some great information...at least for people that want to improve. Thank for sharing!

8:50AM PST on Jan 7, 2013

I've never heard of this for chronic pain management before. I'd be interested to hear if it has been helpful for anyone.

3:47AM PST on Jan 7, 2013

Thank you very much for your article!!! I am very glad that I could read about the chronic pain and possibilities I can do with it except taking pills.
I am very happy that I have also other possibilities. Thank you!!!

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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