An Introduction to PRT
Recent studies have shown that chronic back pain, neck pain, fibromyalgia symptoms, repetitive strain injury, headaches, and other forms of chronic pain are often not the result of structural causes, but of psychophysiological processes that can be reversed. This is known as neuroplastic pain.
Pain is a danger signal. Normally when we injure ourselves, the body sends signals to the brain informing us of tissue damage, and we feel pain. But sometimes, the brain can make a mistake! Neuroplastic pain results from the brain misinterpreting safe messages from the body as if they were dangerous. In other words, neuroplastic pain is a false alarm.
Pain Reprocessing Therapy (PRT) is a system of psychological techniques that retrains the brain to interpret and respond to signals from the body properly, subsequently breaking the cycle of chronic pain. For a step-by-step overview of Pain Reprocessing therapy, click here.
Though the pain can be addressed psychologically, this does not imply that the pain is imaginary. In fact, brain imaging studies have demonstrated that the pain is quite real. Recent research has shown that pain is often the result of learned neural pathways in the brain. And just as pain can be learned, it can also be unlearned.
Pain Reprocessing Therapy was invented by Alan Gordon, LCSW and is most systematically articulated in his recent book, The Way Out. To ensure correctness of our presentation here, we have borrowed liberally from his presentation and even wording. Credit for the original ideas goes to Alan and the scientists and writers that he drew from.
Personality Traits and Life Events
Here are some characteristics that people with neuroplastic pain SOMETIMES have.
- You have experienced a traumatic event in your life
- You have been told that you are more sensitive than most
- You repress or push away difficult emotions or memories
- You hold onto anger and resentment
- You feel guilt or shame about events from the past
- You feel like you are not good enough or not capable
- You are easily overwhelmed or stressed
- You need to have everything be perfect or appear perfect to others
- You put other’s needs above your own
- You are hard on yourself
- You are a people pleaser
- You are compulsive
- You are very dependable
- You have complicated family relationships
- Your pain came during or after a big life change (birth of a child/death of a loved one/marriage/divorce/move/job change/unemployment/prolonged illness in a loved one)