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Train the brain, feel less pain

The idea for today's post comes from a story out of Australia--a story about a man who suffered terrible back pain.  Although the initial back problem was healed from a physical point of view, the idea of walking even small distances was disabling to him.  The young man took pain medications and wore a back brace, but that did not seem to be enough.  To put it simply, his body was healed...but his mind was not.

When the man's physician recommended cognitive behavioral therapy it seemed a bit absurd at first.
But after, consulting thirty different doctors, he found a pain clinic that worked with him, in essence "training his brain to feel less pain." Using a stopwatch, they worked to increase the amount of time he could sit upright, for example, by increasing the time in small increments day after day. There was also a psychologist involved who worked with the patient on relaxation and meditation techniques.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a psychological technique whereby a person is taught to change undesired behavior. Usually it begins with an assessment, which helps to identify what the problem is. Once that happens, a goal is determined and the patient works toward that goal by via small steps. In addition, the patient learns to deal with what happens when things get "sidetracked"--disease flare ups, for example.  Therapy can be discontinued once the patient reaches the pre-determined goals.

Early intervention is ideal; the cost of missed work days and complications of conditions can wreak havoc on an individual, making their condition more complicated and thus more difficult to treat. While nothing is 100% guaranteed, it is certainly something to think about trying.  Unlike medication, there are no side effects or drug interactions to worry about.  And even if medication is necessary, these non-drug types of treatments work well alone and/or in tandem with medication.

Sources: Sydney Morning Herald: Wikimedia


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