U of U Chronic Pain Study: Changing the brain can change the pain

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If you are living with chronic pain, but you want to try something other than medication, a new study might just be for you. Dr. Eric L. Garland with the University of Utah, College of Social Work spoke to us about behavioral treatments for chronic pain as an alternate option.

The University of Utah is offering free behavioral treatment for patients who have chronic pain and who are taking opioids as a way to cope with that pain. The college is providing them an alternative to help them to reduce pain in addition to their opioids.

Mind body therapies like mindfulness training, cognitive therapy, and social support can help change the way patients cope with pain. They teach patients to a new way to think about their pain. A new way to shift the focus of their attention away from pain to parts of their life that are more meaningful and joyful to give them more of a sense of purpose in life.

It may sound cliche, but there is science behind it. It’s not just trying to get someone to think about a positive thing. It can actually make a difference.

When we experience pain it is carried by the nerves in our body up our spine and into the brain. Our thoughts and feelings are really happening in the front part of our forehead, in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The prefrontal cortex can actually change the experience of pain and like a volume knob, turn the volume up or down. It can turn the volume up when we’re stressed or turn the volume down on our pain when we’re feeling happy or focused on parts of our life that are more meaningful and full of purpose.

The chronic pain study doesn’t try to force anyone to stop opioid use. Patients have many different goals. Some people are happy with the way they use opioids. The college then offers extra support to alleviate pain. Others are interested in reducing their opioid use, if so they offer free therapy to help them do that.

There are a number of patients who’ve successfully and completely come off their opioids as a result of being a part of the study.

To find out how you can become part of the study you can email at UtahPainStudy@Utah.edu, or call: 801-581-7508 or text 801-810-1753.

This article contains sponsored content.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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