Entries by The Pain PT

Thoughts, Emotions, Behaviors

When I think of the brain’s role in somatic symptoms, I think of three main outputs the brain can produce that will affect symptoms: 1) thoughts 2) emotions, and 3) behaviors. The brain is continually picking up input from our environment through our senses (taste, touch, smell, sight, sound, etc.) by perceiving what’s happening in […]

Emotion Regulation Strategies & the Pain Experience

I want to review this new study that came out recently (May 2024) in the Clinical Journal of Pain. The results showed how we deal with emotions in real time can have an immediate effect on our pain experience. What the study found was that maladaptive emotion regulation (ER) strategies were associated with more pain […]

Are People with Chronic Pain Overthinking the Meaning of Their Pain?

Let’s look at a new 2024 research paper that reviewed and looked at the neuroscience data on the role of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) in chronic pain. The authors “suggest an updated model of what both the altered activity in and functional connectivity to the dorsal vmPFC may represent in people with chronic pain. […]

Chronic Pain Rewires Circuits in the Cortical Brain

Here’a a 2017 study from New York University that found “that chronic pain rewires circuits in a brain region called the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) to increase “aversion,” the amount of attention paid to, and alarm felt about, any given pain signal. Most previous studies have focused on nociception, the intensity of incoming sensory signals […]

What a 20 year study tells us about Anger & bodily symptoms

Anger is a primary emotion in all humans. How couples handle it during conflict can influence which health issues we are prone to getting, according to a 20 year study from UC Berkley and Northwestern University. What the researchers found was that those who had regular outbursts of anger were more prone to cardiovascular problems […]

Fight, Flight, Freeze, Fawn Symptoms in the Body

One way to understand how the brain can create symptoms in the body is through fight, flight, freeze, fawn nervous system reactions. These stress or trauma reactions are real but they are protective in nature. They are meant to protect you from what the brain perceives as dangerous or threatening. Protection symptoms can be subtle […]

Somatization in those with chronic symptoms

Wanted to touch on somatization again here as it’s something that is a focus point of the work I do with people with chronic somatic symptoms. According to this research paper, “more than one-third of the symptoms reported by outpatients remain medically unexplained after adequate evaluation and somatizing patients account for 10–20% of total medical […]

Insecure Attachment From Childhood Linked to Somatic Symptoms

What is Somatization? Creating a sense of safety and security within ourselves is important for our brain and nervous system to settle and relax, which helps to reduce somatic symptoms in the body. Research has found the opposite is true where insecure attachment is linked with increased somatization in adults. Somatization is basically medically unexplained […]

Social pain and physical pain similar in the brain

A study at University of Michigan found that ‘physical pain and intense feelings of social rejection “hurt” in the same way’. Social psychologist Ethan Kross states: “We found that powerfully inducing feelings of social rejection activate regions of the brain that are involved in physical pain sensation, which are rarely activated in neuro-imaging studies of […]

Catastrophizing an indendent risk factor for widespread chronic pain

A recent study this month February 2024 found ‘Pain catastrophizing appears to be an independent risk factor for progression to chronic widespread pain among patients with chronic low back pain. These findings provide a rationale for interventions aimed at reducing pain catastrophizing, including rumination, magnification, and helplessness, among patients with chronic low back pain.’ Catastrophizing […]