I’ve been talking for years that someone living with chronic pain needs a treatment plan that addresses more than just physical pain management. A report published in Science Daily by Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine (2008, February 6) titled Chronic Pain Harms The Brain validates my concerns. Please see an excerpt from this report below.
In a new study, investigators at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine have identified a clue that may explain how suffering long-term pain could trigger these other pain-related symptoms.Researchers found that in a healthy brain all the regions exist in a state of equilibrium. When one region is active, the others quiet down. But in people with chronic pain, a front region of the cortex mostly associated with emotion “never shuts up,” said Dante Chialvo, lead author and associate research professor of physiology at the Feinberg School. “The areas that are affected fail to deactivate when they should.” They are stuck on full throttle, wearing out neurons and altering their connections to each other.
People with unrelenting pain don’t only suffer from the non-stop sensation of throbbing pain; they also have trouble sleeping, are often depressed, anxious and even have difficulty making simple decisions. These people need treatment that addresses the whole person. This takes a multidisciplinary team that includes medical, psychological, and in some cases addiction team members. I’ve also found that a spiritual component added to the treatment plan can be of great benefit.Now that we’re learning about how pain impacts the brain of chronic pain patients, we need to develop interventions to treat and hopefully prevent more brain damage. The good news is that people who experience this hyperactive brain condition can learn simple tools to cope with the psychological and emotional components of chronic pain, including anticipatory pain. For more information please go to the articles page archives on the APM™ website http://www.addiction-free.com/articles/articles/archive/ to read Pain versus Suffering and the Psychological Components of Pain articles.