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Dr. Zafirides Chronic Pain IS In Your Head: A Startling New Study

Discussion in 'Mindbody Blogs (was Practitioner's Corner)' started by Peter Zafirides, Jul 2, 2012.

  1. Peter Zafirides

    Peter Zafirides Physician

    Hi Everyone,

    I thought you'd be most interested in the very latest chronic pain study out of Northwestern University:


    Researchers at Northwestern University were able to predict - with an incredible 85% accuracy - which individuals would develop chronic pain. They did this by changes they found in specific emotional centers of the brain.

    How about that?

    Studies like this may help us to better understand the specific psychophysiologic process by which PPD/TMS pain occurs. Science may actually be forced to come around to what Dr. Sarno has been saying for the last 30+ years.

    Don't EVER doubt the power you possess at this very moment to significantly reduce your PPD/TMS pain.

    Let me know what you think after you have read the details of the study results.

    Dr. Zafirides
    JanAtheCPA and veronica73 like this.
  2. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    Peter, I just have to report here about the NPR piece that I heard this morning, because your article immediately reminded me of it. They reported on the small number of kidney donors who experience ongoing chronic pain and other problems after donating, although the normal recovery is just 2-4 weeks (which seems pretty amazing) and in most of these cases the reason for the problems is unknown. Well, anyone on this forum knows what immediately came to MY mind!

    The main interviewee gave a kidney to the daughter of a co-worker. Claims he would do it again in spite of chronic pain that has no discernible cause (the reporter actually used the classic words "...they can find nothing wrong.")

    Can you say "Goodist"? In the extremist!

    I just kept wondering what he was unconsciously hoping to get out of this act, that has not materialized for him.

    Very sad. And enraging!

    Livvygurl likes this.
  3. dabatross

    dabatross Well known member

    for one this is fantastic news that studies like these are finally being done. this proves that chronic pain is most often generated in the brain and i hope studies like this change the way physicians see patients. way too much surgery being recommended for chronic pain problems that isn't helping and i believe that this study and others like it will bring in new treatments for chronic pain that actually work instead of damaging the body when there wasn't damage to start with.

    i know this because my dad got back pain around 1992 and it was moderate-severe but after the surgery it became much worse than it was originally so he definitely regrets getting the surgery done. in fact every person i know who has had surgery done it made it worse than it was before (my grandma, my stepmom, my dad, i could go on). Studies like this should push this information into mainstream culture so surgery/physical therapy isn't always the answer thats given.
  4. Peter Zafirides

    Peter Zafirides Physician


    Thanks for posting the link to that story. I really enjoyed reading it. Embarrassingly I personally haven't taken enough time to consider the potential toll (physically and emotionally) on the kidney donor. I treat several patients who have received kidney transplants. However, in 15 years of psychiatric practice, I have never had a patient come in to see me due to emotional or physical pain issues directly resulting from being a kidney donor. Please know your article was very helpful to me. Thank you again for posting it.

    Dr. Z
    JanAtheCPA likes this.
  5. Peter Zafirides

    Peter Zafirides Physician


    I couldn't agree more with your thoughts. The more I think about the Northwestern study, the more it makes sense to me. I couldn't help but draw parallels to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It seems that in both emotional and physical trauma, the greater emotional expression, the greater the chance the pain will continue. It seems our emotions can make both types of pain more "sticky", if you will, and increase the chances the pain will be chronic.

    Pain and emotions are intricately involved. There is pain and then there is suffering. Pain is the actual physical, biological response. Suffering however is the pain and also the meaning one ascribes to it - which is an emotional process. It is this psychophysiologic nature of suffering that really can devastate an individual's life. This is why pain is so complicated. This is why all of us are only at the infancy of understanding the nature of pain, both its biological and emotional components.

    Studies like this are so important because the science forces the individual to reconcile the relevance and importance of the emotional component of pain - the fact that emotions matter. There's just no way around it. And not only do they matter, but in the case of PPD/TMS, emotions are the singular reason the pain exists in the first place.

    - Dr. Z
    JanAtheCPA likes this.

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