Have you been dealing with debilitating pain that interferes with your daily activities? Do you rely on pain medication every day to accomplish daily tasks? Do you suffer from Migraines that prevent you from living your life?
Millions of Canadians suffer from chronic pain that impedes their ability to live a full life. Chronic Pain can have multiple origins and symptom profiles, including musculoskeletal (e.g., bones, muscles, tendons and ligaments), neuropathic (nerves), headaches and migraines (Neurovascular), and visceral pain (from internal organs). There are also conditions like fibromyalgia and complex regional pain syndrome, where people suffer from debilitating pain for years without understanding what the cause may be. When pain becomes chronic in nature, the debilitating effects can not only limit physical activity, but also affect quality of relationships, mood, and overall life fulfillment. There are multiple forms of biofeedback that are effective at improving symptoms of chronic pain. Each of them have different mechanisms to help the brain and body change the brain’s pain. At the Toronto Neurofeedback & Psychotherapy Centre, we provide an in-depth assessment to help identify the cause of the pain and personalize a treatment protocol to reflect your specific needs.
BRAIN PATTERNS & CHRONIC PAIN
Pain is a signal created by the brain to focus our attention on something important, such as an injury. Acute pain transforming into chronic pain, is a maladaptive change where there are structural changes seen in the brain. In particular, the changes happen in the central nervous system’s management of sensory and emotional networks and circuits that help inhibit and manage pain. Extensive research done over many years led to the understanding that chronic pain involves multiple regions of the brain involved including the somatosensory cortex, amygdala, insula, thalamus, basal ganglia, and prefrontal cortex. They’ve also discovered multiple networks of the regions in the brain that are linked to various aspects of pain, such as the sensory experience of pain, the emotional suffering, and the suppression or modulation of the pain. The variations in the research findings found between different types of pain, complicates its management ( One size cannot fit all). For example, physiological data on the study of migraines shows cortical hypersensitivity, a lack of habituation (a decrease in response when exposed to repeated stimulation) and slow cortical waves that are often seen at the onset of a migraine. Other forms of chronic pain (e.g., musculoskeletal) have been linked with elevations in theta activity (slow brain waves) and decreases in alpha activity (aids in self-regulation).
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT WITH NEUROFEEDBACK
Chronic Pain management is commonly managed only through pharmaceutical means. Interdisciplinary chronic pain management programs that address the complexity of the origins of pain show positive, sustainable effects at facilitating one’s ability to manage pain and increase their ability to live fulfilling lives. Although these programs can be effective at helping with pain management, many people are still searching desperately for a means to help reduce the pain itself. Neurofeedback can help target the cognitive and psychological changes in the brain resulting in chronic pain. First utilizing a brain mapping assessment, we learn what brain regions and/or networks could be associated with your pain symptoms. The patterns can vary greatly depending on you, your symptoms and your brain’s adaptations. Your recommended treatment will depend on your specific pattern. Treatment protocols could be targeting the prefrontal cortex to modulate the perception of pain, targeting deeper structures that affect processing of pain (e.g., amygdala), reducing slow wave activity and/or boosting alpha activity (to balance the brain’s arousal and regulation). Thus, the training can be used to develop healthy patterns that can improve your experience and management of pain.