Pain Reprocessing Therapy is a therapeutic modality based on chronic pain and neuroscience research. It is a system of psychological techniques that retrain the brain away from threat causing pain towards a better sense of safety. There is a strong research study that supports its use for neuroplastic pain.
What is Pain Reprocessing Therapy?
Pain reprocessing therapy was developed by Alan Gordon. By the same token, it is recently developed and they are still researching its usefulness for various conditions and whether it can be used effectively in groups.
Additionally, it builds on, combines and extends existing psychological treatments. Such as cognitive-behavioural therapy and methods based in acceptance and mindfulness have been found to increase functioning and suffering in chronic pain sufferers by decreasing pain catastrophizing and enhancing coping. Furthermore, it borrows from exposure-based therapies by focusing on the idea that painful activities are not injurious and that exposure to those activities when the threat level is low does not increase pain. Nevertheless, the combination of approaches in Pain Reprocessing Therapy in the research so far has found substantially larger reductions of pain over the typical results from the therapies that it has borrowed from.
What is involved in Pain Reprocessing Therapy?
Pain Reprocessing Therapy (PRT) is a system of psychological techniques that retrains the brain to interpret and respond to signals from the body properly, subsequently breaking the cycle of chronic pain. It has five main components:
- Education about the brain origins of pain (neuroplastic pain), the pair-fear cycle and reversibility of pain.
- Gathering and reinforcing personal evidence for the brain’s involvement in their pain and potential to reverse their pain.
- Helping them to see their pain as mistaken interpretations by the brain, interrupting the fear-pain cycle, and allowing them to see their pain through a lens of safety and lightness.
- Addressing other non-pain threats that may be impacting their pain and wellbeing. For example, anxiety, self-criticism, self-pressure, trauma, and perfectionism are things that the brain can interpret as threats.
- Shifting from a threat-sensitive lens of looking at the world towards one that welcomes more safety. We do this through encouraging positive sensations, experiences, and feelings.
To sum it up, if the pain comes from the brain, the brain can be used as a solution.
What can Pain Reprocessing Therapy be Used to Treat?
Pain Reprocessing Therapy was created to treat neuroplastic pain. However, it can be effective for any condition where lowering the threat level and increasing a sense of safety can bring benefit. Some of the types of neuroplastic pain, it has been used effectively for include fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and nonspecific back pain.
A randomized controlled study at the University of Colorado Boulder supported the effectiveness of Pain Reprocessing Therapy for chronic pain. In the study, they randomized 151 chronic back pain patients to different groups. 50 received PRT twice a week for four weeks, 51 received a placebo treatment, and 50 received treatment as usual. In the PRT group, 98% of patients improved and 66% of patients were pain-free or nearly pain-free at the end of treatment. These outcomes were largely maintained one year later. 20% of the participants who received the placebo gained the level of pain-free or nearly pain-free. 10% of the treatment-as-usual group achieved pain-free or nearly pain-free levels.
They also found that the people who received PRT had:
- Substantial reductions in brain activity in several regions associated with pain processing.
- Substantial reductions in pain intensity,
- Significant reductions in disability and anger
- Improvements in sleep and depression
- High satisfaction with treatment
Correspondingly, more research being done on Pain Reprocessing Therapy to substantiate the results of this research study. Additionally, there are also a lot of practitioners who have anecdotal evidence for these methods or similar methods having significant improvements for people with neuroplastic pain.
Pain reprocessing therapy is a therapy that is based on other approaches that work for neuroplastic pain and similar conditions. So far, the research is showing significant promise. There are reports of it helping a number of people. If your pain is brain-related, it may work for you.
Further Reading: Book
“The Way Out” By Alan Gordon and Alon Ziv
Additional Resources: YouTube
This is a channel that is dedicated to the documentary “This Might Hurt”. Moreover, it has a number of videos about Pain Reprocessing Therapy and how it can be helpful for various conditions.
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