If you’re one of the 100 million Americans who deal with chronic pain, you know how debilitating and depressing the condition can be. Pain reprocessing therapy is an approach to chronic pain management where therapists help individuals rewire their brains — which, in turn, causes that pain to subside in many cases.
Depending on the severity of the pain, it can be hard to relax, sleep, work, or otherwise enjoy life. And it can be downright depressing, too, as you begin wondering whether the pain will ever subside — or you’ll be forced to deal with it for the rest of your life.
In many cases, it’s not uncommon for depression to cause stress and spiral into anger as those who suffer wonder what they ever did to deserve their pain. Even worse, the link between chronic pain and suicide is well-documented; 8.8 percent of those who committed suicide between 2003 and 2014 were dealing with chronic pain.
When most people think about treating chronic pain, they think about using drugs, engaging in physical therapy sessions, or trying alternative treatments like acupuncture and reiki healing.
While such approaches can certainly help, an increasing number of individuals dealing with chronic pain are trying to heal using a technique called pain reprocessing therapy.
What Is Pain Reprocessing Therapy?
Therapists use pain reprocessing therapy as an approach to chronic pain management helping individuals rewire their brains — which, in many cases, causes that pain to subside. In fact, one recent study found that 66 percent of those treated with pain reprocessing therapy were “nearly or fully” pain-free, while 98 percent showed signs of improvement.
In other words, just because someone might think they’re experiencing chronic pain doesn’t necessarily mean they’re actually feeling chronic pain. In fact, research suggests that chronic pain can be exacerbated by — or, in some cases, even caused by — neural pathways in their brains.
To illustrate, imagine somebody slips on ice and injures their hip on a cold winter day. This individual is no doubt experiencing serious pain in the aftermath of the injury, and that pain persists for several months.
During that time, this person’s brain begins to “learn” about the injury and the associated pain. A year later, though the actual pain has fully subsided, the person still “feels” it because their brain is telling them it exists — even though their body appears perfectly fine when examined by physicians.
In such a scenario, pain reprocessing therapy can help this individual overcome their chronic pain by retraining their brains and “forgetting” what that chronic pain feels like — which can make the pain disappear entirely.
What Does Pain Reprocessing Therapy Look Like?
At the core of pain reprocessing therapy sits a technique called somatic tracking, which involves teaching clients to practice mindfulness, reexamine the way they think about pain, and do everything they can to view pain in a more positive and less fearful light.
From a high level, pain reprocessing therapy consists of five steps:
- Educating clients about the pain-fear cycle, where pain triggers fear, which causes more pain, which triggers more fear, and so on.
- Helping clients understand that the pain they’re experiencing is not due to any physical ailment but rather stems from psychological conditions.
- Leading clients through exercises to change their perception of their pain and break through the pain-fear cycle.
- Helping clients respond to other threats with a more level head.
- Encouraging clients to use the power of positive thinking to transform the way they interpret the world around them with a positive mindset.
By helping folks understand the role their brains play in chronic pain, they can proactively begin to heal by rethinking their pain and the external triggers that might amplify it.
The Benefits of Pain Reprocessing Therapy
There’s a reason pain reprocessing therapy has been generating a good deal of buzz recently: the approach to healing can deliver significant benefits.
Conquering persistent pain
First things first: Pain reprocessing therapy can help clients overcome chronic pain. This, in turn, improves their overall health and makes life more enjoyable.
Learning more about yourself and your capabilities
Pain reprocessing therapy teaches us that we have more power than we might think. Simply by reframing the way you think about pain and your experiences, you learn that it’s possible to overcome physical discomfort. This teaches a valuable lesson: What else have you been holding yourself back from?
For example, someone who uses pain reprocessing therapy to overcome chronic pain might also have a fear of heights. After their experience with therapy, they might decide to tackle their fear head-on in a similar fashion.
Having a healthier outlook on life
When you deal with chronic pain over a long enough timeline, it’s easy to get down on life. Once that pain is alleviated, you can develop a healthier outlook on the future — which makes life more fulfilling for you and those around you.
What to Do If You’re Dealing with Chronic Pain
If you’re dealing with chronic pain, take comfort in the fact you’re not alone. Beyond that, here are some ways you can make your pain at least a little more bearable.
While we don’t have control over many things in life, we do have control over the way we think about our experiences and the world we live in. By making a conscious effort to stay positive, you can alleviate stress and anxiety, which can help you feel better physically.
Though it might seem a bit counterintuitive, research suggests that you can actually relieve your pain by exercising and releasing endorphins, which are nature’s painkillers. Of course, your chronic pain might prevent you from going on five-mile runs. But anything you can do to be active — whether it’s stretching, yoga, or walking down the street — can help.
Chronic pain can make you want to isolate yourself from the world. Resist these temptations. Spending time with other people can help you overcome negative feelings and become more resilient in the face of your chronic pain.
Search for a therapist
If the preceding three tactics aren’t working for you, it may be time to begin your search for a therapist and give pain reprocessing therapy a try. The right therapist can help you overcome your chronic pain by changing the way you think about it.
Ready to conquer your chronic pain and live your best life? Begin your search for a professional therapist near you today.
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