Researchers at Northwestern University have been studying the brain-chronic pain connection for well over a decade. Based on their multiple studies “we argue that the state of the brain’s emotional and motivational circuitry, as well as its reorganization following a pain-inciting event, determine the transition to pain chronicity.” Once we rule out any major structural issue, we want to focus on changing brain patterns with chronic pain.
They go on to say: “Chronic pain is defined as a state of continued suffering, sustained long after the initial inciting injury has healed. In terms of learning and memory one could recast this definition as: Chronic pain is a persistence of the memory of pain and/or the inability to extinguish the memory of pain evoked by an initial inciting injury.”
This is interesting as these researchers see chronic pain as an ongoing memory of the pain in the brain. With a lot of chronic pain a there is no danger happening now in the body. It’s just a memory in the brain. If we can see chronic pain in this way, we can work to extinguish the memory of the pain in the brain. We do this by teaching and showing our brains that we are fine now, and that there is no current danger. Retraining the brain to erase the memory of the pain!