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New Brain Re-Training Treatments for Pain

October 27th, 2014 · No Comments

This article is in our series Why You Should See a Pain Management Psychiatrist.

What are the newer treatments such as mirror therapy and graded motor imagery for pain. In chronic pain, your brain is changed so that signals stuck in pain-mode. Chronic pain creates actual changes in your brain. As well, when you’re in pain, you often use your body part less, so there are less signals of normal movement registering in your brain. This can create a downward cycle:

less use of your body,
fewer normal movement signals competing with pain signals,
more pain,
less use of your body, etc.

How can you break this cycle?

There are newer treatments based on the concept that re-training your brain can decrease pain. These treatments are exciting, and some patients using them have had good success decreasing their pain.

Mirror therapy uses your visual system to “see” normal movement and reassure your brain that it no longer needs to produce pain signals. Graded motor imagery is a step-wise program aimed at breaking up movement into components, allowing your brain to slowly resume normal movement without producing pain.

Mirror therapy has been shown to be helpful in:

  • early CRPS
  • phantom pain
  • stroke
  • low back pain

Graded motor imagery has been shown to be helpful in:

  • chronic CRPS
  • phantom limb pain

Ongoing research is helping us learn more about these exciting treatments and fine-tune our use of them.

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