Two-thirds of patients with chronic back pain who received psychotherapy, called “pain reprocessing therapy,” almost completely relieved their pain-this suggests a new way to relieve pain without medication.
challenge: Chronic back pain—pain that lasts at least 12 weeks—is very common, affecting approximately 8% of Americans. Pain can damage a person’s ability to work, quality of life and mental health, and is also the main burden of the economy.
If doctors can determine the cause of chronic back pain, such as injury or illness, they may be able to use surgery or targeted treatment to relieve it.
“If the cause is in the brain, then the solution may also be there.”
But approximately 85% of chronic back pain sufferers suffer from so-called “primary” pain, which means that doctors No Can determine the specific cause-and there is no specific “treatment” method, sometimes all they can do is provide medicine to cover up the pain.
For obvious pain, this may mean prescribing opioids, and because these drugs can cause euphoria in addition to pain relief, they are risky and easily abused.
new goal: Recent studies have shown that the reason why doctors cannot find so many patients with chronic back pain is because they are looking at the wrong place-patients may feel back pain, but reason The pain is in their brains.
“This is not to say that your pain is not real, or that it is’all in your head’,” Torvag, senior author of the new pain relief study, told CU Boulder Today. “This means that if the cause is in the brain, then the solution may also be there.”
Pain reprocessing therapy: One theory is that people with primary chronic back pain have certain neural networks in their brains that overreact to mild stimuli-a twist in the waist may cause a tingling pain in people who don’t have this problem. It will make these people feel painful.
The lead author Yoni Ashar likens this over-sensitivity to “false alarms staying in the’on’ position.”
Ashar and his colleagues have now tested a treatment designed to calm the alarm. It is called Pain Reprocessing Therapy (PRT), and its role is to teach people with chronic back pain how to reconnect their brains so that they do not overreact to painful stimuli.
“The premise of this treatment is that the brain can produce pain after no injury or healing, and people can forget this pain,” Ashar said.
Research: The study included approximately 150 people with chronic back pain for at least six months, who believed that the intensity was at least four out of ten.
Participants in the treatment group took 8 1-hour PRT sessions in 4 weeks. During the meeting, they learned about the role of the brain in chronic pain and performed exercises designed to help them reconnect the allergy circuit.
Ashar compares this over-sensitivity to “false alarms staying in the’on’ position.”
This may include doing things that usually cause pain episodes—such as sitting down—and being asked to consider how they feel, talk about their emotions, and reconsider their response to pain.
“The idea is that by treating pain as a safety rather than a threat, patients can change the brain network [that are] Strengthen the pain and neutralize it,” Ashar said.
result: By the end of the study, 66% of the people in the treatment group had no or almost no pain. Most people maintain this remission during the one-year follow-up.
In the placebo group (patients received saline injection as the site of chronic back pain), the rate at the end of the study was 20%, while in the no-treatment group, the rate was 10%.
Before and after the treatment, the researchers performed brain scans of the participants, and at the same time performed mild painful stimulation. In the PRT group, the part of the brain related to pain processing was “quieter” after treatment—that is, less active.
The next steps: PRT is still an experimental treatment, and more research involving a larger group is needed before we can determine whether it can be an effective way to prevent chronic back pain.
Nonetheless, this study suggests that the solution to chronic back pain may be in the patient’s head, not in their body.
“[It’s] A new way to think about the causes of chronic back pain in many people and the tools available to treat this pain,” said co-author Sona Dimidjian.
We would love to hear from you!If you have any comments on this article, or if you have any suggestions for future Freethink stories, please send an email to email@example.com.