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Psychological Risk Factors for Pain

If you’ve ever been told that “pain is all in your head,” they may be right, but not in the way they were thinking. Pain is real, but science is demonstrating that our brains and nervous systems are actually physically changed through experiencing pain. Furthermore, stress and psychological risk factors caused by physical suffering can also help alter the receptors in our brains.

Suffering does not end with the physical sensation of trauma we experience. Studies have shown that pain is a complex process that actually has an effect on “perception, attention, mood, motivation, learning and memory.” The neurons in our brains are altered when we experience discomfort. This alteration can lead to or reinforce the effects of suffering. Another study revealed that actual lesions develop in our neural pathways and can contribute to agony arising directly from our nervous system. Normally, our nerves alert us to trauma so we can avoid danger. But when they experience chronic suffering, they can become hypersensitive.

There are certain psychological conditions which risk causing more physical misery. Feelings of depression, hopelessness, or anxiety are a common response when experiencing hurtful sensations. This is why the American Psychological Association also endorses psychotherapy in addition to other treatments when dealing with chronic pain. They have found that psychological therapy actually reduces negative nerve sensations. This demonstrates that painful sensations, the alterations they cause in our nervous systems, and our psychological responses to them create a vicious feedback loop.

Feeling stressed out also has a direct physical effect because the muscles in our body can cramp, increasing our discomfort. Biofeedback therapy can help teach patients how to relax their minds and bodies to control the stress responses which lead to worsening problems. This is an example of why physical suffering should be treated not only with surgery or drugs, but also with therapies meant to address our psychological and neurological responses to it. Drugs only disguise negative sensations and fail to attack the root causes of chronic misery.

Whereas psychological therapy can help moderate our experience of physical suffering, neuropathic treatment is therapy involved in fixing the actual malfunctioning nerve receptors. Scrambler Therapy is a type of therapy designed to retrain receptors to learn to recognize again what a non-pain signal is. Rather than the signals they were accustomed to receiving, the malfunctioning receptors will now become accustomed to receiving normal signals.

Changing nerve receptors is possible due to the property known as “plasticity.” This term refers to the ability of our brains and nervous systems to alter, change, or grow. In other words, the same property which allows nerve receptors to change because of trauma and harmful psychological conditions, will also allow them to return to a normal state. Scrambler Therapy is one way to achieve relief at the neuropathic level. Neuropathic therapy and psychological therapy are a one-two punch for chronic suffering.

 

 

 

Posted In: Blog
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