What is Pain?
In some posts I share things that are going on for me personally, because I feel it’s so important to let you see that we’re all on this journey through life – myself included! Other times, I write to provide an educational approach to a particular topic. But no matter what I write about, I approach it with the same curiosity and compassion I bring to my clients. No matter what you’re facing, curiosity and compassion are the most important tools to uncover what’s really going on inside of us. This is true for processing trauma, healing disordered eating, overcoming grief or PTSD – and even meeting physical challenges like chronic pain.
So many people in the world are living with chronic pain right now. According to the World Health Organization, chronic pain is one of the top 20 causes of disability worldwide, and in the United States about 1 in 5 adults suffers from some form of chronic pain. And they’re desperate to find help – answers, medications, treatments, anything that might relieve the painful sensations they have lived with for so long. Fortunately, recent discoveries in neuroscience are giving us groundbreaking new insight into the treatment of chronic pain. My work with pain is based on research showing that most forms of chronic pain do not come from physical problems in the body, but rather from learned neural pathways that have developed over time in the brain. If that sounds complicated, let me explain. Pain is useful. A good thing, even! Pain is a signal that tells your body that something may be wrong – that you could be in danger. It is your body’s way to keep you safe and alive. Sometimes, though, your brain remembers pain and sends these “danger signals” to your body even when there’s nothing wrong and no immediate danger. These signals from your brain are often the cause of chronic pain. It’s our job to identify the false alarms and teach your brain that there is no danger. That it doesn’t need to signal pain. This doesn’t mean your pain isn’t real! It means your brain’s perception and interpretation of what your body is feeling can be shifted or rewired so that what you experience becomes something else, finally freeing you from your pain. So, why do our brains make this mistake? What is the fuel that keeps the pain going? In his book The Way Out: A Revolutionary Scientifically Proven Approach to Healing Chronic Pain, author Alan Gordon writes that the answer is fear. He describes how your fear feeds an ongoing cycle of pain that you can’t seem to stop. Fear turns into pain, pain leads to fear, and on and on again. When we teach your brain that the pain is not dangerous, we can rebuild your thought process and help you free yourself from the cycle. When you work with me to teach your brain to identify and reassess the signals it receives from the body, we begin by exploring your pain story with curiosity and compassion. We develop and deepen your ability to notice and look for places of ease within your body.And we work to replace a sense of fear around the pain with a sense of safety. This helps stop the cycle and stop the false alarms.
This practice is called Pain Reprocessing Therapy or PRT. And the type of pain that can be rewired and relearned is called neuroplastic pain.
For some clients, PRT alone is not enough to support the process of retraining the brain. In those cases ketamine treatment may be an option. An anesthetic used worldwide for more than 50 years, ketamine is now proving to be one of the most effective treatments for chronic pain. I partner with Kairos Restorative Medicine, a ketamine treatment clinic in Texas, that provides these services alongside PRT. If you'd like more information, you can visit their website or reach out to me directly. Most importantly, if you or someone you know is struggling with chronic pain, I want to offer encouragement and hope – and the knowledge that you’re not alone. There are resources available to help you break the cycle of fear. Together, we can approach your chronic pain with curiosity and compassion and help you find healing. Set up a call and we can find out if PRT is right for you. We’re in this together, Jen