More than 100 million Americans suffer from the distress and limitations of Chronic Pain. More than all of those who suffer from diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Medical costs and lost productivity exceeds $600 billion annually. In addition to any financial considerations for the larger society, there are significant personal and family costs for an individual suffering from Chronic Pain. There is the loss of income, diminished physical and leisure activities, greatly disturbed relationships, lack of adequate sleep, declining health in other areas, emotional distress and a loss of quality of life in general.
Pain-focused thinking, beliefs and attitudes begin to dominate the day-to-day experience of the Chronic Pain sufferer.
On the surface Chronic Pain seems to be primarily a physical condition, but when we look deeper, pain, particularly persistent pain, becomes embedded in emotions and the mind. In fact, what is remarkable, but too often overlooked, is that one’s mental state of thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and feelings is often the largest regulator of the perceived level pain.
Mind-Based Chronic Pain
An area that initially caused acute pain may be healed and the initial reason for pain as a protective warning signal resolved. Unfortunately, if acute pain is around for 3 to 6 months there becomes an increasing risk of developing Chronic Pain.
The experience of pain migrates from a home in the neuro-network of somatic (body associated) regions of the brain to the executive (story making and belief) regions of the brain. As a home is created and embellished in the thought and story holding parts of the brain, Chronic Pain becomes more thoroughly embedded. In time, conscious and unconscious thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and emotions become the primary driving force of Chronic Pain.
This type of long-term prolonged pain can be understood as “mind-based Chronic Pain. The power of humans to hold onto and relish stories is fundamentally the root of persistent mind-based Chronic Pain. Every instance of mind-based Chronic Pain has an array of underlying beliefs and stories.
Acute Pain and Chronic Pain Processed in Different Regions of the Brain:
Needing Totally Different Interventions for Relief and Resolution