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Comprehensive National Geographic article about pain

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by JanAtheCPA, Mar 8, 2020.

  1. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    The January 2020 issue of National Geographic focuses on pain for its cover story, and the article has a TON of information and new insights, many of which are relevant to what we are trying to accomplish here. The science of the mindbody connection is advancing rapidly, which is awesome. I highly recommend obtaining a copy of the issue or the article somehow. I don't think it can be read online without a subscription, but lots of libraries subscribe or obtain back issues. I'm pasting in a few quotes which I think are really relevant to our TMS work and knowledge.

    I've italicized and enclosed in quotes all of the excerpts. I've shortened a number of sentences or paragraphs, shown by ellipses. Anything not italicized is my commentary.

    Researchers are closing in on HOW chronic pain emerges, but most still think that they don't know WHY. Dr. Sarno remains the one who was willing to answer that without any doubt.

    Confirming that the sensation of pain does not occur where we think the pain exists, but is actually first generated by the brain:
    "Researchers are making significant strides in detailing how pain signals are communicated from sensory nerves to the brain and how the brain perceives the sensation of pain."

    Confirming that pain can definitely exist when there is physically no reason for it:
    "In many patients, it turns out, pain originating from an injury or ailment persists long after the underlying cause has been resolved. Pain—in such cases—becomes the disease."

    "Researchers, meanwhile, are testing promising alternative strategies... ...alter pain perception ...harnessing the body’s intrinsic capacity to soothe its own pain."​

    "This [experiment] showed that the injury to the skin had sensitized the central nervous system, causing neurons in the spinal cord to transmit pain signals to the brain even when the input from peripheral nerves was innocuous."

    "The pain transmission system can become hypersensitive in the wake of an injury... but it also can go haywire on its own or stay in a sensitized state well after an injury has healed. This is what happens in patients with neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and certain other conditions."

    "Pain... is a complex, subjective phenomenon that is shaped by the particular brain that’s experiencing it. How pain signals are ultimately translated into painful sensations can be influenced by a person’s emotional state. The context in which the pain is being perceived also can alter how it feels..."

    " 'You’ve got this incredible capability of altering how those signals are processed when they do arrive' says Irene Tracey, a neuroscientist at the University of Oxford."

    "Tracey and her colleagues have shown that fear, anxiety, and sadness can make pain feel worse."

    "...a recent British study of more than 300 patients with a type of shoulder pain thought to be caused by a bone spur... often removed in surgery. Researchers randomly divided the participants into three groups. One group underwent the surgery. A second group was led to believe it had, but it hadn’t. A third group was asked to return in three months to see a shoulder specialist. The group that had the operation and the one that thought it did reported similar relief from their shoulder pain.
    “What it showed is that it’s just a placebo. The surgery is not mechanistically doing anything for the pain,” says Tracey, one of the study’s authors. “The pain relief the patients are getting is just driven by a placebo effect.”
    But to Tracey, the outcome isn’t any less important because it shows the placebo effect worked. On the contrary, she says, the study reveals the force of a patient’s belief in the treatment. “What it’s powerfully saying is expectations shape pain,” Tracey says.

    "Other studies have uncovered how a patient’s expectation of reduced pain can translate into actual relief."

    “This is not just pretend,” Tracey says. “The placebo mechanism hijacks this very powerful system in the brain.”

    [findings from another study] "suggest that the brains of chronic pain patients are conditioned by constant exposure to pain to react as if every stimulus is potentially painful, causing the patients to live in distress."

    So, dear forum friends - those reading for the first time about over-sensitization of the nervous system might be freaking out just a little bit right now, taking seriously the researcher who characterizes this as a disease, and offering no current cure, but let's not forget that we have many powerful examples right here on our forum of people who have absolutely recovered from these conditions, because, as the other findings are telling us, we DO have the power within our brains to change our perception of pain and other symptoms. Not only that, we have the original work of Dr. Sarno, and the continuing work of the wonderful doctors and therapists who have followed Dr. Sarno, who know without a doubt that the key lies in our repressed emotions.

    If we somehow managed to condition our brains, we can certainly uncondition them. Dr. Schubiner knows this - and the title of his work says it all - we can unlearn our pain. It is only the inherent negativity of our primitive physical-survival-above-all-else fearful brains that prevents us from doing so.

    Anyway, there is a lot more in the article - a whole LOT more - about avenues that researchers are exploring and different treatments they are trying, along with detailed and technical, but fascinating, descriptions of how the nervous system works. Some experimental treatments seem to be all about distraction (for example, the use of VR) or about actual brain stimulation (little shocks) and of course there is a constant search for drugs that will affect the action of nervous system components without the addictive and intoxicating effects of opioids (the description of how opioids work is pretty fascinating). For those individuals who can't deal with their emotions, these will hold out hope for the future.

    But for those who DO want to work with their emotions, I think that the advancing knowledge of the neuroscience is pretty amazing.
    HattieNC, plum and tgirl like this.
  2. tgirl

    tgirl Well known member

    Thanks for this post JanAtheCPA. My problem with reading this type of article is I am afraid I will read something that will leave me feeling hopeless. From what you are saying it doesn’t sound like that.

    RDDGCC New Member

    Some very powerful quotes there!!

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