Hit the Brakes on the Pain Train
(Workbook Page 29)
Nerve cells behave in various ways to serve the purpose of normal functioning of the brain and body. These are:
Short Term Potentiation
One nerve cell fires another and when it stops firing, so does the second nerve cell.
Short Term Depression
One nerve cell fires and releases inhibitory neurotransmitters that prevent the other nerve cell from being fired until the first nerve cell stops firing. Only then can another nerve cell successfully fire it.
Long Term Potentiation
One nerve cell fires another and when the first nerve cell stops firing, the second nerve cell continues to fire for long periods of time. When this occurs to increasing numbers of nerve cells in the pain circuit, pain transforms from acute to persistent.
Long Term Potentiation can occur instantly with a nerve injury or over time with a chronic inflammatory injury. Under the influence of chronic or intermittent inflammation Short Term Potentiation transforms into Long Term Potentiation as illustrated in the animation below:
One nerve cell fires another and when it stops firing so does the second nerve cell. As this goes on over time or as the strength of the signal increases, the transformation to long term potentiation occurs.
Long Term Depression.
When Long Term Potentiation is set up another nerve cell can capture the rhythm of the Long Term Potentiated nerve cell, slow it down and stop it, making it much harder to fire in the future. This is an extremely important step in stopping persistent pain.
Look at the graphic on page 29 of the Neuroplastic Transformation Workbook illustrating these processes.
One of the major ways pain becomes a disease is when nerve cells continuously fire with or without input from any other nerve cell. This is called Long Term Potentiation. These nerves are essentially runaway cells firing on their own and wiring other cells into their network to do the same thing. Left untreated, pain networks grow and pain increases. Traditional modalities to block or suppress this process are helpful in the beginning phases of treatment but long term solutions must be aimed at stopping and reversing the process. Incorporating neuroplasticity techniques as the hub of treatment provides a way to move beyond suppression to resolution.
Studies have shown that Long Term Potentiation can be converted to Long Term Depression by another nerve firing slowly in proximity to the rapidly firing potentiated nerve. Long Term Depression aborts the persistent pain process. Neuroplasticity techniques using this approach to reset the circuits should be able to convert Long Term Potentiation to Long Term Depression in much the same way.