Pain & the Brain: Is your pain all in your head?

The answer………yes and no. What do I mean? The brain is the epicenter of pain in the body, natural & medicinal strategies to relieve discomfort often focus there. For example, when you stub your toe, skin receptors send electrical signals through nerve fibers to the spinal column and then up to the brain. Pain specialists note that genetics, upbringing, and cultural practices of various ethnic groups can all affect how pain is felt. With acute pain caused by minor aliments usually resolves itself after the affected region heals. Chronic pain is very different. It should be viewed similarly to chronic diseases like diabetes, since it likely will require the same kind of sustained, comprehensive treatment plan. Here is the good news. Research has shown that people can activate their descending pathways to block pain by “mind over matter” techniques.

The photo of the two brains shows how “mindfulness meditation” can change the brains reaction to pain. Hypnosis, biofeedback, yoga, relaxation techniques, mental rehearsal, visual imagers and CBT techniques help produce comfort and decrease activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, the areas of the brain that processes the emotional response to pain.

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Dr. Mike Klaybor

Dr. Mike Klaybor

Dr. Mike Klaybor brings thirty years of experience in practicing counseling psychology with individuals and couples. His approach is cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. Specific specialties include; anxiety and stress management, chronic pain & chronic illness management, depression, substance abuse evaluations, employee assistance and executive coaching for workplace performance and leadership.