Our minds are pretty powerful when we let them work for us. Especially when it comes to pain relief.
In fact, according to new research, psychological therapy that focuses on altering your beliefs about pain can deliver LASTING relief.
It may even change the parts of your brain that generate that pain in the first place!
And during a time where the opioid crisis continues to destroy millions of lives, I’m beyond eager to share these exciting findings with you here today…
Pain-free in four weeks
Chronic back pain is a major cause of disability here in the U.S. And to make matters worse, treatment often doesn’t work well. In fact, most cases of chronic back pain don’t even have an obvious cause.
So, this study looked at people who suffered low to moderately severe chronic back pain for an average of ten years—with a goal of finding relief.
Researchers divided these subjects into three groups: One underwent a type of therapy called “pain reprocessing therapy” (PRT)—including one telehealth session with a doctor and a four-week course of eight PRT sessions.
A second group received a placebo saline injection in the back. And a third group just went about their normal routines.
Ultimately, the researchers observed some massive changes in pain scores.
In fact, a full two-thirds of the patients in the PRT group were completely or nearly pain-free after treatment—compared with just 20 percent in the placebo group, and 10 percent in the group that followed their normal routines.
Even better, these changes stuck.
After a year, the average pain score in the PRT group was still only 1.51 (on a pain scale of 10)—versus 2.79 in the placebo group, and 3 in the usual care group.
Maybe it goes without saying, but this kind of reduction is pretty rare for chronic back pain sufferers. So what exactly is PRT, and how does it work?
Well, let’s talk about that now…
Retraining your brain
This type of therapy basically alters your brain’s networks to make you think of the pain as SAFE rather than threatening. So instead of reinforcing the pain with your thinking, you learn how to neutralize it.
Now, you may think, “why would any pain be good?” But it’s important to remember that pain is a critical survival mechanism. When your body is threatened with injury, pain triggers withdrawal, and protects you from serious damage.
For cavemen and cavewomen, this was a lifesaver. But in the modern age of non-fatal chronic illness, our primal defense mechanisms can turn against us.
That’s where PRT comes in.
Patients learn about the role that the brain plays in causing chronic pain, and then learn to re-engage in movements that they had previously been scared to make. It also helps patients navigate emotions that might be making their pain worse.
It truly is amazing!
And, ironically, I was just thinking about this very concept the other day. My sister was taking her ten-year-old daughter to the dentist to get a tooth pulled. Naturally, her little girl was anxious that it would hurt. So my sister asked her daughter to imagine that it wouldn’t hurt. And you know what? It didn’t!
Now, obviously, managing chronic pain is more than just a simple mind trick. But this goes to show you that there are a lot of safe and effective options worth trying before you turn to lethal painkillers.
PRT is one. (Search for a trained therapist online, or ask your primary care doctor about it.) And there are plenty of others—as I outlined in the September 2020 issue of my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter (“Common, but deadly: Popular over-the-counter pain meds do more harm than good”). Not yet a subscriber? Now is the perfect time to become one!
“Retraining the Brain May Eliminate Chronic Back Pain.” Medscape Medical News, 10/06/2021. (medscape.com/viewarticle/960370)