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The Neuroscience of Chronic Pain

Pain is one of the most common reasons for seeing healthcare with about 30% of the population suffering from non-cancer related chronic pain. Pain is a complex condition that includes multiple neurobiological, psychosocial and genetic components. Everyone with chronic pain at some point started with unresolved acute pain.

There are significant long-term consequences of untreated acute pain such as post-traumatic stress symptoms, depression, sleep disorders, etc. Chronic pain changes the neuroplasticity of the brain resulting in neurons becoming hyper-responsive to both painful and non-painful stimuli, this process is known as sensitisation. Central sensitisation occurs when the central nervous system adapts adversely to pain signals. The CNS acts like a “helicopter parent” – limiting the quality of life by avoidance of daily activities as a protective response.

There are often barriers and knowledge gaps regarding non-opioid analgesic options and non-pharmacological and integrative pain management therapies. Complementary and alternative health approaches should be considered when managing chronic pain. Watching the opioid crisis in the USA unfolding one can see how the nervous system fights back against medications, requiring higher and higher doses to manage pain – ultimately leading to addiction and in many cases accidental overdose.

Neurofeedback can help get the Central Nervous System back into balance and normalise the response to painful stimuli!

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