Many studies show strong evidence that chronic pain, like low back pain (LBP,) is actually a trick of the mind. Chronic pain is the discomfort or pain felt more than 3 to 6 months post injury when the tissue and structural damage has already healed but the mind still sends pain signals to the area.
This is a major issue affecting a huge number of people! The CDC says that 1 in 5 Americans suffer chronic pain.
The thought is that we become overprotective of an area previously injured and therefore create the stiffness and discomfort in our head to protect the area.
From this study: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-017-09429-1
Feeling stiff is a significant predictor of disability16 and is a primary target of interventions for many musculoskeletal conditions including back pain, arthritis, and neck pain. Worldwide, the most burdensome of these conditions is low back pain (LBP). Affecting ~10% of the world’s population (~632 million people), chronic LBP is also the leading cause of disability17. Despite increasing healthcare expenditure, clinical outcomes remain sub-optimal18, spurring a call to re-examine basic mechanisms associated with LBP and its symptoms19, most obviously stiffness.
This is all an oversensitivity in the central nervous system.
With Dynamical Neurofeedback, your cortical activity is read and reported back to your central nervous system (256 times per second!) essentially telling your brain what it is doing in that exact moment. With this, your brain is able to realize that it is sending pain signals, and re-assess if this is an efficient thing to do. The brain thrives on efficiency. When the CNS can realize that there is no current injury or risk situation for the area, it is able to turn off the pain signals.
I’ve experienced this magic myself!
In 2016, I injured my low back during a CrossFit workout. The actual diagnosis was a torn disc between L4 and L5. This triggered all kinds of other issues, most debilitating being sciatica and most persistent being terrible Achilles tendonitis. It took me almost 2 years to not be in constant discomfort and I still have moments where my brain tells my back it’s at risk and it freezes up and creates pain signals, sometimes lasting many days. This happened quite dramatically this year when it stiffened so bad I felt I couldn’t move or bend at all with pain signals at 9. This time though, I had a NeurOptimal Neurofeedback unit available and it occurred to me that since it makes me feel so calm and relaxed, maybe a session could help me deal with the pain. What I didn’t realize is that within about 7 minutes of my session the pain turned off completely. My back re-stiffened during that day, though the pain stayed reduced, and so I did another neurofeedback session the next day with the same instant pain relief. By the 3rd day and 3rd session, the pain was gone and didn’t return. It really was like magic.
I can’t help but wonder how much of those 2 years of constant discomfort I could have saved myself if I had used neurofeedback sooner.
I’d love to share this with you and see if your pain turns off as mine did.
Use coupon code “pain-sucks” to get 50% off your first session and see what it can do for your pain.
If you don’t live near enough to me, use https://neuroptimal.com/find-a-trainer/ to find NeurOptimal Dynamical Neurofeedback near you.
Want more on chronic back pain?
Jam-packed with research and citations, Paul Ingraham writes on the science of pain: https://www.painscience.com/articles/pain-is-weird.php
Cathryn Jakobson Ramin, the author of Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry and Getting on the Road to Recovery (2017) has this fantastic and thorough article about chronic pain and the industries thriving off it: https://aeon.co/essays/to-treat-back-pain-look-to-the-brain-not-the-spine
If you enjoy hearing about the science of pain, this is a fun TEDx talk.