Murray J. McAllister, PsyD
Murray J. McAllister, PsyD, is a pain psychologist and consults to health systems on improving pain. He is the editor and founder of the Institute for Chronic Pain (ICP). The ICP is an educational and public policy think tank. In its mission is to lead the field in making pain management more empirically supported, the ICP provides academic quality information on chronic pain that is approachable to patients and their families.
It would be nice if once you were diagnosed with chronic pain your provider would hand you an instruction manual. It could be titled something like, “How to Navigate the Healthcare System When It Comes to Chronic Pain.”
The Institute for Chronic Pain (ICP) would like to welcome a guest post by Jen of Pain Camp. Camper Jen, as she goes by, is the founder of Pain Camp, which is a wonderful blog and website on chronic pain from the perspective of someone who has chronic pain and who has participated in a chronic pain rehabilitation program. Her site, as well as her personal story, is one of how to go from SURVIVING to THRIVING despite having chronic pain. Her spirit is admirable and her testimony is inspiring.
Body in Mind - Research into the role of the brain and mind in chronic pain. HealthSkills - Skills for healthy living for health professionals working in chronic pain management. How to Cope with Pain - A resource for those with chronic pain, their families and friends, and for those who treat patients with chronic pain. My Cuppa Jo - A blog that offers insights and practical tips on living life to the fullest despite having chronic pain. Pain Camp - Tools to manage your pain so you can move on with life.
The Institute for Chronic Pain is a public policy ‘think tank’ devoted to grounding chronic pain management on the principles of empirical-based healthcare. We maintain a health information website (www.instituteforchronicpain.org) specifically for chronic pain and its various treatments. We bring together leading scholars and clinicians to provide academic-quality information that is approachable to patients, their families, and third-party payers.
How do you know if you are ready to participate in a chronic pain rehabilitation program?
Chronic pain rehabilitation programs defined
Chronic pain rehabilitation programs are a traditional form of chronic pain management.
People often equate rehabilitation with physical therapy. It’s something a patient does following an injury or a complicated surgery. Still others think of rehab as a treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction. A few years ago, a British soul singer had a hit single with the song “Rehab." The lyrics were about whether to check herself into substance dependence treatment or not. Rehabilitation can also be a form of vocational counseling. Injured workers re-learn how to go back to work in what’s called vocational rehabilitation.
It often comes as a surprise to patients that chronic pain rehabilitation programs are typically the most effective form of treatment for patients with chronic (non-cancer) pain syndromes. As a society, we tend to assume that medications, procedures and surgeries are not only effective, but are the most effective treatments for chronic pain. But, it’s not the case.
What is biofeedback?
Biofeedback is a treatment used for a variety of chronic pain and other medical conditions that consists of sensors placed on the patient’s body while physiological data is viewed on a computer screen or other monitor in real time. It is considered a self-regulatory therapy because it is a tool for increasing awareness of and changing individual physiological responses to reduce symptoms or improve performance. The Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback (AAPB), the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance (BCIA), and International Society for Neurofeedback and Research (ISNR) provide this standard definition:
On initial reaction, it might seem absurd to talk about the benefits of self-managing chronic pain without opioid medications. "What," one might ask, "would you use to reduce pain? You wouldn't want to live the rest of your life in pain, would you?" The topic seems absurd because pain reduction reflexively seems so important. Indeed, pain reduction from the use of opioids seems so important that it trumps everything else, even problems associated with the use of opioids.
The notion of a neuromatrix of the brain is a theoretical model that explains the nature of pain, including chronic pain. Ronald Melzack, PhD, a psychologist, and one of the founding fathers of the field of pain management as we know it today, developed the theory and published it in a series of papers at the end of the last century.1, 2, 3, 4 Melzack had previously revolutionized the field of pain management in an earlier theory that he had developed and published with his physician colleague, Patrick Wall, in what is known as the gate control theory of pain.5 Few theories in modern science have spawned more empirical research than those of the gate control theory of pain and the neuromatrix of pain. Indeed, while technically theories, the field largely considers these models as accurate explanations of the nature of pain, given the great wealth of empirical evidence that now confirms them. So, what is this notion of the neuromatrix of the brain that explains the nature of pain?
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