A professor from Oxford has scientific findings which may suggest we are wrongly treating patients who suffer from chronic pain.
Professor Irene Tracey believes part of the problem is due to people perceiving pain as a symptom, when actually it is a disease itself. Tracey is just one of a growing number of specialists using hi-tech image scanners to reveal how medicine often approaches pain from the wrong perspective.
Chronic pain affects almost eight millions brits, that’s more than one in ten of the entire population. It is defined as an issue which persists for longer than six months after surgery or injury and is an issue which costs the economy £12 billion a year.
Professor Tracey explains how our beliefs can be powerful and over riding. She gave the example of an experiment she conducted where they told patients they has stopped giving them a strong opioid drug, when in fact they were still giving it to the patients. However suddenly they all reported their pain levels increasing.
The long term effect of these types of negative beliefs can have a catastrophic effect, as the more anxious and depressed someone becomes about pain, the more they rewire their brains architecture so that it ultimately becomes hypersensitive to physical stimulus. “In chronic pain, the area of your brain that processes your anxieties, fears and worries really plays havoc,”
People are now beginning to adopt different approaches in response to chronic pain. Training and coaching courses, some of which take on an approach similar to that of cognitive behavioral therapy are becoming increasingly popular alternatives to medication.
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