When Pain Becomes Chronic

According to Dr. Pawluk, chronic pain affects the brain:

“Chronic pain increases anxiety and dramatically reduces quality of life. Chronic pain causes disability, loss of work, and other problems in the way people act, think, and feel (emotions). If untreated, chronic pain can lead to depression, sleeping disorders, immune suppression, eating disorders, and other long-term negative health problems…

“Thanks to brain research, we can peer into the brain with various types of imaging tools, including enhanced MRI and positron emission tomography (PET) scanning. Based on this research, pain perception has been found to be the result of interactions between various parts of the brain exchanging and processing incoming pain signals. Even with relatively minor acute pain, about 10% of the brain cortex (the largest part of the brain) is activated, amounting to about 8 billion to 10 billion neurons…

“Pain signals from the body enter the brain and act like dominoes spreading throughout the brain and activating various brain functions. The parts of the brain affected by acute pain include mostly the limbic system, the seat of emotions. These acutely produced reactions gradually go away (extinguish) in time. However, when the pain is more intense and persistent, it does not extinguish from the limbic system, but shifts and expands from the feeling of pain to more of an emotional suffering state…

“Over time, this shift causes actual physical and functional brain changes. These changes can cause even minor pain signals from the body to be perceived as worse than they actually are by increasing the sensitivity of the spinal cord and the brain itself to any continuing pain input. In addition, even other non-pain sensations from the body can stimulate the brain circuits of previous pain memories. This means that the focus of clinicians on what the type of pain is—whether from inflammation or neuropathy, for example—for designing treatment is not likely useful…

“Pulsed Electromagnetic Field (PEMF) therapy can be used to target the pain response centers in the brain. There is extensive research on using PEMF therapy to treat the brain and regulate brain function. This brain research has shown that PEMFs are safe and effective to use across the brain. This includes use of devices across the range of intensity, from very high to low. High-intensity PEMFs are often used in the clinical setting, although many people own their own high-intensity systems. Medium to lower intensity PEMF systems are also available and can be used across the brain. PEMFs can help to tone down inflamed and overactive brain functions (hyperexcitability), both by direct tissue actions (repair) and by adjusting brain frequency functions (entrainment)…

“Based on the current research, coils from the PEMF device are placed across the skull at the upper part of the forehead at the hairline and, at the same time, at the base of the skull on the upper part of the neck for at least 1 hour. Following this, coils should be placed about an inch above and slightly behind the midline of the ears, on both sides of the head, for at least 1 hour.  These placements target the goal brain locations, the frontal brain cortex and the limbic system.”

See full blog post here: https://www.drpawluk.com/blog/when-pain-becomes-chronic/