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Chronic Pain

Constant, interminable pain, with rare to no abatement, combined with lack of tools for being in relationship to pain, will result in a wide range of symptoms, and due to the long term nature of chronic pain, may result in feelings of isolation and abandonment.

In addition to the wide variety of physical symptoms, chronic pain sufferers may also have high levels of:

Depression
Anxiety
Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
Loss of interest
Chronic fatigue
Sleep disturbances
Uncontrollable anger
Loss of Self-worth
Loss of financial resources
Stress from lifestyle changes
Symptoms of psychological trauma

If you suffer from chronic pain and you’ve made your way here, you might be afraid someone will tell you “It’s all in your head.” Pain isn’t psychological, it is physical and can be witnessed in your brain’s somatosensory cortex through MRIs. Yet, if you are here, just knowing your pain is physiological hasn’t helped you to handle the psychological side effects of pain.

And, you may have adapted to the pain by using muscular bracing and body dissociation against the pain. Muscular bracing can cause extreme discomfort by cementing in muscular tightness. Body dissociation cuts you off from the remaining good sensations in your body as well as blocking helpful information about what your body needs and wants.

Individual counseling provides a safe place to explore the effects the pain is having on all the areas of your life and construct positive ways of dealing with the pain that keep you connected to yourself and to all the significant others in your life.

The course of therapy for chronic pain begins with establishing a relationship in which you feel safe to be you, pain and all. Then, an assessment of your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors in relationship to your pain is undertaken. A treatment plan is agreed upon, which involves small, gradual changes made slowly in a way your body can adapt to with ease. If agreed, I will lead you in mind/body treatments such as meditation, mindfulness and extraordinarily gentle movement.

Treatment is considered successful not if the pain goes away, but if you achieve a full toolbox of ways to handle your situation.

At the termination of your therapy, your toolbox will include:

A significant reduction in depression or anxiety
You will know the relaxation response for breaking the cycle of tension that accompanies pain and be aware of all your pain triggers
You will have met and challenged the negative beliefs and cognitive distortions you have
You will have identified and resolved any factors contributing or worsening your pain, such as a traumatic history of sexual or physical abuse
You can manage the stressors associated with chronic pain,
You can decrease your reliance on pain medications
You will be aware of all your pain triggers

You might find the following abstract of a study done one the effects of meditation on pain interesting:

Brain Mechanisms Supporting the Modulation of Pain by Mindfulness Meditation
• Fadel Zeidan1, Katherine T. Martucci1, Robert A. Kraft2, Nakia S. Gordon3, John G. McHaffie1, and Robert C. Coghill1
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Author Affiliations
• 1Departments of Neurobiology and Anatomy and
• 2Biomedical Engineering, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27157, and
• 3Psychology Department, Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53233
Abstract
The subjective experience of one’s environment is constructed by interactions among sensory, cognitive, and affective processes. For centuries, meditation has been thought to influence such processes by enabling a nonevaluative representation of sensory events. To better understand how meditation influences the sensory experience, we used arterial spin labeling functional magnetic resonance imaging to assess the neural mechanisms by which mindfulness meditation influences pain in healthy human participants. After 4 d of mindfulness meditation training, meditating in the presence of noxious stimulation significantly reduced pain unpleasantness by 57% and pain intensity ratings by 40% when compared to rest. A two-factor repeated-measures ANOVA was used to identify interactions between meditation and pain-related brain activation. Meditation reduced pain-related activation of the contralateral primary somatosensory cortex. Multiple regression analysis was used to identify brain regions associated with individual differences in the magnitude of meditation-related pain reductions. Meditation-induced reductions in pain intensity ratings were associated with increased activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and anterior insula, areas involved in the cognitive regulation of nociceptive processing. Reductions in pain unpleasantness ratings were associated with orbitofrontal cortex activation, an area implicated in reframing the contextual evaluation of sensory events. Moreover, reductions in pain unpleasantness also were associated with thalamic deactivation, which may reflect a limbic gating mechanism involved in modifying interactions between afferent input and executive-order brain areas. Together, these data indicate that meditation engages multiple brain mechanisms that alter the construction of the subjectively available pain experience from afferent information.
Received November 3, 2010.
Revision received January 6, 2011.
Accepted February 13, 2011.

This link might be helpful as well:

http://www.nicabm.com/nicabmblog/how-mindfulness-works-to-help-the-brain-manage-pain

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