Studies Support Mind-Body Connection to Relieve Pain
Be fully aware of the addictive potential of opioid drugs, and seriously weigh your need for a narcotic pain killer.
While many pain experts disagree recent research supports the idea that pain, in many cases, has psychological underpinnings.
A study published last year found emotion awareness and expression therapy (EAET) reduced chronic musculoskeletal pain by at least 30% in about 70% of patients, and 33% of patients improved by 70%.
More recently, a study published in the journal Pain concluded that treating fibromyalgia pain with EAET was more effective than cognitive behavioral therapy and general fibromyalgia education.
Other recent research found that feelings of stiffness in the back “may represent a protective perceptual construct.”
Tasha Stanton, PhD, who investigates the neuroscience behind pain, explained her team’s findings: “People with chronic back pain and stiffness overestimate how much force was being applied to their backs — they were more protective of their back. How much they overestimated this force related to how stiff their backs felt — the stiffer [it] felt, the more they overestimated force. This suggests the feelings of stiffness are a protective response, likely to avoid movement … In theory, people who feel back stiffness should have a stiffer spine than those who do not. We found this was not the case in reality. Instead, we found that the amount they protected their back was a better predictor of how stiff their back felt. [We] found that these feelings could be modulated using different sounds.
The feeling of stiffness was worse with creaky door sounds and less with gentle whooshing sounds. This raises the possibility that we can clinically target stiffness without focusing on the joint itself but using other senses.
The brain uses information from numerous different sources including sound, touch, and vision, to create feelings such as stiffness. If we can manipulate those sources of information, we then potentially have the ability to manipulate feelings of stiffness. This opens the door for new treatment possibilities, which is incredibly exciting.”
It is helpful to remember that while pain may be largely a product of your own mind, the pain is still “real.”
As noted by Dr. Mel Pohl, a clinical assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, “all pain is regulated by the brain — whether there is an actual nail in your thumb or an old injury that should have healed by now but inexplicably keeps hurting — in both cases it is nerve fibers that are sending messages to your brain that cause you to feel pain.”
An acute injury does not have to have a psychological trigger, but if the pain persists long after the injury has healed, there may well be an emotional aspect involved.
Pain can also carve figurative grooves in the brain.
When pain is perceived over an extended period of time, the number of pain-causing neurotransmitters in the human nervous system increase and the pain threshold tends to get lower.
Essentially, one become more sensitized to pain.
Dr. Pohl believes emotions are a primary cause of pain, triggering as much as 80% of all pain.
This does not detract from its validity or intensity.
Writing for Psychology Today, he says: “Based on studies conducted [in 2013] … published in the journal NatureNeuroscience, we now have conclusive evidence that the experience of chronic pain is strongly influenced by emotions. The emotional state of the brain can explain why different individuals do not respond the same way to similar injuries.
It was possible to predict with 85% accuracy whether an individual (out of a group of forty volunteers who each received four brain scans over the course of one year) would go on to develop chronic pain after an injury, or not.
These results echo other data and studies in the psychological and medical literature that confirm that changing one’s attitudes — one’s emotions — toward pain decreases the pain. I believe that one of the most important things people with chronic pain can do to help themselves is to notice what they are feeling.”
The body needs regular activity to remain pain-free, and this applies even if when currently in pain.
Not only does prolonged sitting restrict blood flow, which may trigger or exacerbate pain, sitting may even be the cause of the pain.
For example, when we sit for long periods of time, we typically end up shortening your iliacus, psoas and quadratus lumborum muscles that connect from your lumbar region to the top of your femur and pelvis.
When these muscles are shortened, it can cause severe pain upon standing, as they will effectively pull your lower back forward.
When there’s insufficient movement in your hip and thoracic spine, you also end up with excessive movement in your lower back.
Most people tend to coddle the pain and avoid moving about as much as possible, but in most cases, this is actually contraindicated.
Experts now agree that when it hurts the most, that’s when you really need to get moving.
I know this 1st hand as I manage our Newsroom 24/7 world wide, and sitting a lot would be devastating If I did not deal with it strenuously
A scientific review of 21 studies confirmed that not only is exercise the most effective way to prevent back pain, it’s also the best way to prevent a relapse.
Among people with history of back pain, those who exercised had a 25 to 40% lower risk of having another episode within a year than those who did not exercise.
Strength exercises, aerobics, flexibility training and stretching were all beneficial in lowering the risk of recurring pain.
The video above, featuring Lisa Huck, demonstrates and explains the benefits of dynamic movement, and how it can help prevent and treat back pain.
Doctors are starting to prescribe activity in combination with a wait-and-watch approach for back pain patients.
Dr. James Weinstein, a back-pain specialist and chief executive of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System, told the NY-Ts: “What we need to do is to stop medicalizing symptoms. Pills are not going to make people better … [Y]oga and tai chi, all those things are wonderful, but why not just go back to your normal activities? I know your back hurts, but go run, be active, instead of taking a pill.”
This view has now become the new norm.
In fact, on 14 February 2017, the American College of Physicians issued updated treatment guidelines for acute, subacute and chronic low back pain, now sidestepping medication as a 1st-line treatment and recommending non-Rx drug therapies instead.
This is a major change, and 1 that could potentially save thousands of lives by avoiding opioid addiction that has reached Emergency Status in America now.
The new guidelines include three primary recommendations, as follows:
1.“Given that most patients with acute or subacute low back pain improve over time regardless of treatment, clinicians and patients should select nonpharmacologic treatment with superficial heat … massage, acupuncture, or spinal manipulation … If pharmacologic treatment is desired, clinicians and patients should select nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or skeletal muscle relaxants …
2.For patients with chronic low back pain, clinicians and patients should initially select nonpharmacologic treatment with exercise, multidisciplinary rehabilitation, acupuncture, mindfulness-based stress reduction … tai chi, yoga, motor control exercise, progressive relaxation, electromyography biofeedback, low-level laser therapy, operant therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, or spinal manipulation …
3.In patients with chronic low back pain who have had an inadequate response to nonpharmacologic therapy, clinicians and patients should consider pharmacologic treatment with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs as first-line therapy, or tramadol or duloxetine as second-line therapy.
Clinicians should only consider opioids as an option in patients who have failed the aforementioned treatments and only if the potential benefits outweigh the risks for individual patients and after a discussion of known risks and realistic benefits with patients … “
The guidelines stress that even in the rare case when an opioid is given, it should only be prescribed in the lowest dose and for the shortest duration possible.
Steroid injections and acetaminophen are also discouraged, as studies suggest neither is helpful or beneficial.
Acetaminophen does not lower inflammation, and a review of the research shows steroids are on par with placebo when it comes to treating back pain long term.
I believe that ones emotional health and the ability to effectively address stress is an essential component of optimal health, and can have a major influence on whether or not one is effective in eliminating pain.
Many doctors and scientists from various fields of medicine that I read agree.
It is very unfortunate that so many people dismiss these types of treatment strategies simply because they seem “too simple to be effective.”
People been indoctrinated to believe that getting well involves radical, often painful treatment, when in most cases the complete opposite is true.
It is also important to be fully aware of the addictive potential of opioid drugs, and to seriously weigh your need for a narcotic pain killer.
There are many other ways to address pain.
Research shows prescription-strength naproxen (Naprosyn, sold OTC in lower dosages as Aleve) provides the same pain relief as more dangerous narcotic painkillers.
However, while naproxen may be a better alternative to narcotic painkillers, it still comes with a very long list of potential side effects, and the risks increase with frequency of use.
It is your health, take control of it.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Exercise, Live lively