We have come up with an approach to treating persistent pain that is based upon the principles of neuroplasticity:
- Continued firing of a nerve by another nerve increases the strength of the firing and the number of synapses dedicated to those nerves. (What gets fired, gets wired)
- Nerve cells that do not fire other nerves over time will lose synaptic strength and break synapses dedicated to those nerves. (What you don’t use, you lose)
- To conserve the amount of energy the brain uses, old synapses must be broken, when new synapses are formed. (When you make ‘em you break ‘em; when you break ‘em you make ‘em)
The brain changes constantly from conscious input and purposeful activity to information processing that happens automatically and without any self-directed stimulation. As stated earlier massive changes in synaptic connections occur throughout life and any new activity or learning changes the brain’s anatomy, physiology, cell structure, synaptic strength, electrical circuits and regional functionality. This may also leave a vulnerability to runaway processes, resulting in neuroplasticity creating a disease state. At the same time an opportunity is created to actively use neuroplasticity for something that works as an agent of positive change. Even a process that happens below the level of the conscious, thinking and perceiving brain, can be influenced by a desire to change it. In fact all new learning is based upon modifying what is already in place, then through repetition and mastery making most of that learning unconscious and automatic. Through repeated awkwardness and failure a person is gradually rewarded with a fluid ability to perform the necessary tasks, that consistently work. In fact, when something is mastered, it is surprising when it does not work. The more it is repeated and becomes part of the regular living routine, the less conscious attention it requires to perform and the higher the level of performance.
The idea called MIRROR applies these concepts. This stand for:
Review the text on Page 14 of the Neuroplastic Transformation workbook. Utilizing these basic principles to rebalance pain processing circuits, the brain can restore normal pain perception and control to people suffering with persistent pain. This requires a few shifts in beliefs that are held about pain. Pain is not something that controls us. Pain is not the inevitable fate of those with persistent pain. Persistent pain is not the result of damage to the body tissue. Pain is not experienced in the body, but is experienced in the perceptive part of the brain. The body does not act independently from the brain, and the brain relies upon the input from the body to make all of it’s own changes. Normal activity does not damage the body after an injury has healed. Regardless of the source of the injury, we have many opportunities to consciously change our pain perception. Learning to control persistent pain is no different than learning anything else. Persistence, practice and failure will ultimately lead to mastery and control, if one remains relentless in one’s pursuit of pain control. Pain management is not the goal of treating persistent pain. We can work toward a reasonable expectation of curing the disease of persistent pain. While a person may not be able to cure the underlying disease or injury in persistent pain problems, with this approach, one can learn to shift the pain from the pain persistence to the symptom of acute pain, that is pain that occurs because we have exceeded a limit and when that excess is corrected, returns to a baseline of painless living.