Fear is the Fuel that Keeps the Chronic Pain Alive

New paper just out looking at fear and its relationship to pain. Fear is the fuel for continued pain. Many times when we can cut out the fuel source we can cut out the pain. One of the keys is to learn to expose yourself to what you fear and to stop avoiding things because of pain. The reason why we can do this is because chronic pain is not damaging anything like an acute injury- it is more likely a brain and nervous system response that is in and of itself benign.

Title: “Fear in the context of pain: Lessons learned from 100 years of fear conditioning research”


The impact of human fear conditioning research reaches far beyond phobic anxiety.

Pain-related fear learning paradigms are used to study mechanisms in chronic pain.

Chronic pain patients show similar learning deficits as anxiety disorder patients.

Exposure protocols have been developed to reduce fear and chronic pain disability.

Not fear reduction, but avoidance behavior should be the central focus of treatment.