“Chronic pain is a significant public health problem, affecting millions of Americans and incurring substantial economic costs to society.”
That’s a quote from Karen B. DeSalvo, MD, HHS acting assistant secretary for health at a recent scientific conference on pain.
The solution to chronic pain can’t focus entirely on trying to fix the original source of pain – whether it be from an auto accident, sports injury, a medical procedure gone awry, or anything else.
As the weeks and months roll by, the experience of pain shifts from “acute” pain to “chronic” pain. Chronic pain invariably involves changes in brain circuitry and a shift in the nervous system response to stress.
“Chronic pain is associated with marked changes in brain activity compared to acute pain.”
That’s according to a study published in 2013 by A. Apkarian and colleagues at Northwestern University.
The researchers tracked the shift in brain activity as pain evolved from short term to long-term, or chronic pain. As time passed, additional areas of the brain, typically associated with the emotional response to pain, heightened their activity.
In addition to changes in the brain, chronic pain also affects the parts of the nervous system that govern your reaction to stress. Those with chronic pain typically respond with an over-active flight-or-fight mechanism and have less ability to nourish, rebuild and recharge their system.
Effective treatment for chronic pain must address these changes in the brain and the rest of the nervous system.
One strategy to rewire the brain is to feed in new sensory information. You can flood your nervous system with novel input to give it a wake up call. In particular, the brain uses signals from the touch perception system to orient you to the world and set your overall response parameters.
Because of the brain’s sensitivity to touch, both NeuroTactile® Therapy and Craniosacral Therapy, two gentle forms of manual therapy, are particularly effective in the treatment of chronic pain. Dr. Lavine has spent more than 35 years in researching and developing the optimal ways to use these methods in combination with other pain relief strategies.