Psychologist, Tara Brach approaches therapy using mindfulness as the foundation to healing; she does this through a blend of westernized therapy and eastern buddhist practices. Her website www.tarabrach.com, has hundreds of free recorded talks, videos, and articles where she investigates different facets of the human experience; pain being one of them. In the video The Dance with Pain that I attached below, Dr. Brach explores the relationship between emotional and physical sensations when dealing with acute and/or chronic pain and discomfort. Dr. Brach reminds us when humans feel pain - they tend to contract against the pain, they judge the pain, and blame themselves, others, and/or the pain. However, this fight and resistance tends to create more physical and emotional pain/discomfort. Dr. Brach then goes on to clearly teach us ways in which we can mindfully inhabit our bodies and learn how to listen and respond to the pain with awareness and compassion.
NPR did a great piece on an integrated program that treats patients with chronic pain using exercise, nutrition and education. Sound familiar? The program is sponsored by Kaiser Permanente in response to the opioid epidemic and the growing concerns around using opiates as "front line" treatment for pain complaints. Restore Fx is proud to say that we have been providing this type of integrative care for the past 12 years! Listen to the podcast and we think you will see the similarities -- not only is their program interdisciplinary (as is ours) but it has all of the practitioners/healthcare providers in the same location functioning as a team (again, like ours!). Kudos to Kaiser for making this program available to its clients in Colorado. We hope that other insurance providers take note and start to offer this kind of care to their clients.
America is clearly embroiled in an opioid crisis. And the roots go back to over-prescription of pain medications by doctors who were either poorly informed, sadly deliberately mis-informed by Big Pharma or lacked the ethics to consider the long-term consequences of continuing to prescribe these dangerous medications. We at Restore Fx are committed to helping patients learn to manage their pain in ways that are SUSTAINABLE.
How can you determine what is a sustainable treatment for chronic pain?
At Restore Fx we have what we call the "pocket test": is it FREE? Because if it isn't you may not be able to continue to afford it at some point; is it PORTABLE? Because chronic pain follows you throughout your day-- to your work site, to the family reunion, to the church picnic and to your kids soccer game. So if you can't bring your treatment with you wherever you go, it's not of much use to you; and is it SELF-ADMINISTERED? Because if you have to go see someone to administer the treatment (i.e. massage, chiropractic, injections, surgeries or even renewing a pain medication prescription) what are you going to do when it's 3AM and your pain is through the roof? You need to be able to SELF-TREAT pain, wherever, whenever and even if you are alone at that moment. So if it doesn't pass the "Pocket Test" you may want to reconsider having it be a mainstay in your management of chronic pain. Imagine depending on chiropractic visits and then going on a family trip to another state. You wake up in terrible pain and have no other tools for managing the pain because your "go-to" is the chiropractor. I have no problem with chiropractic care, or massage therapy, or physical therapy or other treatments administered by other professionals. They can be great additional resources once you have some good "pocket-tested" tools.
What tools would pass the "pocket test"? At Restore Fx we teach mindfulness meditation, yoga, Pilates, stretching, self-massage, appropriate use of heat and ice, self-correction techniques, cognitive-behavioral therapy, nutrition and appropriate self-administered exercises. All of those things can be done on your own, without paying any money or seeing a professional. If you are not familiar with these tools you may want to look into our services or find a local provider who can teach you.
Wishing you health and wellness in your journey living with pain,
For those of us who work in chronic pain it’s easy to see that patients who have persisting pain for more than 6 months almost always struggle with depression. And research has also shown that those who had depression before they developed pain are much more likely to have that pain become chronic. But the mechanisms linking these two disorders have not always been fully understood.
At Restore Fx we aim to provide the most research-based and current treatments for chronic pain. Our staff constantly reviews medical journals to inform our treatments and improve care for our patients. Just today I came across an interesting article that may help to explain the link between depression and chronic pain on a brain level. Researchers were able to stimulate increased release of serotonin (a neurotransmitter/brain chemical) in mice and found that it significantly reduced their sensitivity to pain. They did this through a clever use of light-sensitive neurons that produce serotonin. For more detailed information on their study please see:
Optogenetic Recruitment of Dorsal Raphe Serotonergic Neurons Acutely Decreases Mechanosensory Responsivity in Behaving MiceGuillaume P. Dugué, Magor L. Lörincz, Eran Lottem, Enrica Audero, Sara Matias, Patricia A. Correia, Clément Léna, Zachary F. MainenResearch Article | published 22 Aug 2014 | PLOS ONE
This may help to explain why taking an antidepressant helps in reducing pain. It’s also good to note that exercise, which is helpful in painful conditions such as arthritis, also reduces depression. So what’s good for your depression is probably also good for your chronic pain.
Stay tuned for more scientific advancements on understanding chronic pain and how to best treat it.
Wishing you well,
Krista Jordan, Ph.D., ABPP
Program Director, Restore Fx
Restoring Functional Life
Krista Jordan, Ph.D., ABPP