Tactile acuity training meets back pain meets Frankie goes to Hollywood

Cormac Ryan

One of the most exciting areas of pain science at the moment is brain training. To me this is the idea that the patient’s brain image of the painful area does not match the physical body itself and this mismatch, for some reason, maintains the pain. Brain training interventions attempt to correct this mismatch by reshaping the brain image to … [Read more...]

A tool for communicating body perception disturbances

Ailie Turton

Some people with persistent pain have altered perceptions of parts of their body. For example they can perceive their affected limbs as having some distortions of size, perhaps with enlarged hands or very thin forearms. They can also feel that the limb is in a different position to its actual location and that areas of body or limb segments are … [Read more...]

Do People Recover from CRPS?

Debbie Bean

Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) is a condition which can invoke fear and dread both in patients and healthcare providers.  Many patients I’ve met who have been told they’ve got CRPS have done a little searching on Dr Google and come away terrified, thinking CRPS is a life sentence, worrying it might never get any better, having read that … [Read more...]

How can we design low back pain intervention studies to better explain the effects of treatment?

Gemma Mansell

Many different treatments exist for low back pain (LBP). Often they are multidisciplinary, involving physiotherapists, psychologists and medical doctors. However, when these treatments are tested in experimental studies many produce only small treatment effects when they are compared to each other and only small or moderate effects when compared to … [Read more...]

Can Pain Neuroscience Education Improve Endogenous Pain Inhibition?

Many chronic musculoskeletal pain disorders are characterized by the presence of central sensitization, which implies that the central nervous system is in a hypersensitive state in those who suffer from these disorders. Sensitivity to pain results from the outcome of the battle between pathways which facilitate the passage of nociceptive … [Read more...]

Emerging research trends on the relationship between sleep and pain

The relationship between pain and sleep quality is well reported in the literature. Sleep complaints are present in up to 88% of chronic pain disorders [1] and at least 50% of patients presenting with insomnia also suffer chronic pain [2]. This short blog post focusses on a recent review by Finan, Goodin and Smith (2013) who aimed to identify … [Read more...]

Directing Attention to Pain

Pain captures our attention instantaneously, and makes it hard to pay attention to anything else. But is it possible to direct attention to pain voluntarily and in a specific manner? Which brain mechanisms would drive voluntary direction of attention to pain? Why is this important? It is likely that chronic pain patients have exaggerated … [Read more...]

From Cue to Meaning

Oleg Lobanov

Sensory cues in our environment continuously guide processing in the brain. A simple touch, tone or a flash of light shapes our thought process countless numbers of times per day. In pain, cues leading to expectations of higher upcoming pain not only increase subjective pain ratings, but also increase the degree of activity in brain areas engaged … [Read more...]

Doses and processes in pain management

Amanda Williams

In considering whether we can answer the question of whether there is a dose-response relationship in psychologically-based pain management for chronic pain problems, we need to step back a bit and think about what dose-response means. It’s based on a very simple notion of medication, perhaps of analgesia: that a small dose produces a small effect, … [Read more...]

Do brain changes really contribute to persistent low back pain?

If you’ve recently attended a pain conference, had a glass of wine with a pain boffin or spent time googling ‘pain’ you’ve no doubt come across the terms ‘neuroplasticity’ and ‘central sensitization’. These buzzwords are increasingly used to describe biological changes that might contribute to persistent low back pain. But do they really explain … [Read more...]