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Mirror therapy for back pain?

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by Pemberley, Oct 11, 2018.

  1. Pemberley

    Pemberley Peer Supporter

    Has anyone tried mirror therapy for back pain? I came across this article about it, and it makes a lot of sense for helping to reduce fear of movement. Think it can be done without a physical therapist? Can it support TMS work?

    http://neurotopian.blogspot.com/2014/12/mirror-therapy-for-low-back-pain.html (The Neurotopian: Mirror Therapy for Low Back Pain)

    Also, a longer video here that starts with low back pain and moves on to other movement issues (hands/arms/feet, etc.). It’s interesting what he says about tattoos and jewelry (if you’re dealing with pain on one side and not the other):

  2. EileenS

    EileenS Well known member

    Hi Pemberley,
    Therapy, whether mirror therapy or any other therapy is in contradiction to TMS work. One of the first things one must do with TMS work is stop all forms of therapy.
    Regarding tattoos or piercings, could you tell us what the video says about them please? I have limited internet so can't watch the 25 minute video to find out.
  3. Pemberley

    Pemberley Peer Supporter

    Thanks for the response, EileenS! I am hesitant about "therapy" too and stopped PT years ago. From what I've read so far, mirror therapy comes from studying neuroplasticity and phantom limb pain (the works of people like V. S. Ramachandran and, I think, Lorimer Moseley). I find it interesting that this is a video from a physical therapist training -- it's like they're using neuroplasticity (for psychogenic pain) to help people visualize by actively watching that their back, knee, hands, etc. are healthy and OK. It's like trying to rewire your brain but coming at it from a physical standpoint -- from sight. I think he even says somewhere that visualizing a healthy back (without the mirrors) works too -- which I've read from many TMS experts. But if you're stuck, then actually SEEING it can help. So they're not saying that this or that type of exercise is going to help you like in regular PT. It's like they're using mirrors to trick your mind into visualizing a healthy body.

    My pain started with a physical injury, which healed and then the pain never went away (because, I now know many years later, of the trauma associated with that injury). I could see why a PT might use this form of therapy to help someone who is recovering from a recent injury so that they don't get stuck in a pain loop/pathway. I wonder if, after many, many years of pain, can you still "trick" your brain out of pain?

    The tattoos and piercings are for people with pain on one side of their body. It won't help if, for example, you associate the pain with the side of your body that has your wedding band or a tattoo. It makes sense -- the mirror image needs to look like the other side of your body that doesn't feel pain (or maybe I have that backwards...?).
    Sofa likes this.
  4. EileenS

    EileenS Well known member

    Hi Pemberley,
    The mirror therapy sounds like the description of Feldenkrais therapy, which I read about in one of Dr Norman Doidge's books. He writes about neuroplasticity and writes from a clinical standpoint (as opposed to a woowoo standpoint) and his books are interesting reads if you are needing confirmation that the brain can be rewired. Sarno's pure method is to not do any therapies. Personally, I have sometimes "followed my heart/inner voice" to do other things and they have helped me, but that doesn't mean they will help others. The trick is to do something because you somehow just know you need to, as opposed to continually searching because that searching will keep you stuck in pain.
    Re: tattoos and piercings. So it sounds like you mean they say, if you have pain on one side of the body then get a piercing on the other side? Sort of as a way to take the mind off the side with the pain? Sounds pretty drastic. I'd rather do acupuncture which I just finished doing for 6 months to rewire nerves and the brain. I had very invasive surgery in my neck under my left ear 10 years ago that left me with nerve damage when the nerves grew back. The acupuncture needles were painful going in, but at least not permanent and now I can sleep on my left side again for the first time in 10 years.
    Lizzy likes this.
  5. Pemberley

    Pemberley Peer Supporter

    Oh, no -- nothing drastic like that! They're saying that they recommend taking the ring off your finger or covering your tattoo with skin-colored tape so that it can look like the OTHER hand. :)

    Someone recently recommended Norman Doidge to me, so I will look into that. But, yes -- I'm interested in the mechanics of it all. I'm glad that you had success with acupuncture. I found it very helpful for healing a true physical injury in my arm many years ago.
    EileenS likes this.
  6. Free of Fear

    Free of Fear Well known member

    Not sure if this will be helpful, but a measure I've been using lately when deciding to do an activity that is treatment-related, is, am I doing this out of motivation to get rid of pain? Or am I doing this because I think it will make me a happier person with a more balanced nervous system? If it's about the pain, then I don't do it, but if I answer yes to the second question, then I will try it.

    I do Feldenkrais almost daily, by the way, because it fits the second question. the biggest breakthrough I've had in all of this, and what allowed me to start believing in TMS, was after a feldenkrais session with a practitioner.

    so so if the motivation is fear-based, I don't do it. But if the choice feels more about growth and relaxation, then I do.
    EileenS, JanAtheCPA and BloodMoon like this.
  7. Pemberley

    Pemberley Peer Supporter

    This is such great advice – am I doing this out of motivation to get rid of pain, or because I think it will make me a happier person with a more balanced nervous system? I feel hopeful that applying this question to things is going to help a lot. Thank you!
    Free of Fear likes this.

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