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December 10, 2014

Stress and Pain and "No Pain Pathways"


     If you experience pain on a daily basis and especially if you are in chronic pain (where chronic pain is defined as any pain lasting longer than 3 months) it is so important for you to learn as much as you can about how the brain responds to pain.  There is so much new information about pain, so much we are beginning to understand about how we experience pain, the role stress and earlier emotional wounds play in chronic pain and most importantlly, how we can learn to control pain.  I urge all of my pain patients to read and watch videos explaining what the experts now believe helps alleviate pain. But before we can control our pain we must first believe we can.

     Below is one such video that you can watch from your laptop or tablet or whatever device allows you to see videos.  Dr. Howard Schubiner is a board certified physician who works with chronic pain patients.  He is the founder and director of the Mind Body Medicine Program at Providence Hospital in Michigan.

     Dr. Schubiner describes two concepts related to pain:  pain that is a direct result of injury and pain caused by nerve pathways learned over time. These pain pathways are activated by fear, stress and various triggers. We also have what he calls no pain pathways.   Behavioral therapy is all about learning how to de-activate our pain pathways and activate our no pain pathways.
Imagine you are in pain somewhere in your body.  You are lying on your couch watching a really good movie.  There is a part of the movie that is so engrossing that your entire focus is on the story you are watching.  During this period of being highly focused you will probably notice that you are not aware of your pain.  What is happening then?  Dr. Schubiner would say that our no pain pathways are working and helping free us from our pain.

If you or a loved one suffers from chronic pain, watch the video so that you too can begin the process of learning to lessen your pain.




Want more?  More links to videos talking about chronic pain are listed below.  Please educate yourself and watch:

Understanding Pain and What to do about it in less than five minutes

A TED Talk by Elliot Krane The Mystery of Chronic Pain

Lorimer Mosely on The Brain and Chronic Pain   This is long but fascinating and funny.



Sandy Andrews, PhD is a Clinical Psychologist and Psychotherapist who practices CBT in Austin, Texas