New science has transformed the way we think about chronic pain

Breakthroughs in pain science have led to a whole new way of understanding and treating chronic pain.

New medical criterion (ICD-11) names chronic primary pain as an umbrella condition that explains a host of chronic pain conditions like: chronic back pain, spasms, frozen shoulder, chronic tendonitis, repetitive strain injury, vulvodynia, fibromyalgia, migraines, irritable bowel, CRPS, POTS, TMJ, persistent neck pain, interstitial cystitis.

A brain-first treatment approach has been scientifically proven to be highly effective in treating primary pain conditions.

What is primary pain?

Primary pain is pain that is produced by the brain. Primary pain can occur even when there is no structural concern and/or when all tissue damage has healed.

This is actually a very common problem. In cases of primary pain, the pain signaling system becomes overly sensitized and sends a disproportionate amount of pain signals.

Often this alarm is sounded when really just a small candle is safely burning or it can sound the alarm without any fire at all.

Because it’s the signaling system that is misfiring, a brain-first solution that addresses cognitive, emotional, and behavioral patterns allows us to train our brains to change our experience of pain and, in many cases, reverse it completely.

How do I know if a brain-first approach will work for me?

The first step to understanding if a brain-first approach is right for you is to first determine if you have any of the positive indications of primary pain. These can include:

Pain that has lasted for more than six months

Multiple pain symptoms

Pain that varies substantially from day to day

Pain that intensifies during times of stress

History of failed treatments for pain

History of adverse childhood experiences

Presence of depression, anxiety, and other mood symptoms

Learn more

Why brain-first treatment works

Our brain is very good at learning - that's one of its main jobs. But sometimes, the brain can get a bit overzealous and learn to signal pain when it is not supposed to — kind of like a bad habit.

Our brain is also “neuroplastic,” meaning it can be shaped and molded - at any age. A brain that learns to produce pain can unlearn it too.

By addressing our thinking, feeling, and behavioral patterns, we can retrain our brain and change our experience of pain. In many cases we can eliminate years of chronic pain altogether.

Learn about our primary pain recovery program here.

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Charlie Merrill / PT and clinical advisor
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