Changing Your Mind-Set, Reduce Your Chronic Pain

April 10, 2018

(Scientific American) – Medication is one answer, but painkillers such as opioids—and even drugs like ibuprofen and acetaminophen (more familiar to some as the brands Advil and Tylenol)—can have significant downsides. It turns out, however, psychological approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you train your brain away from pain. Brain-imaging research has shown a negative pain mind-set (ruminating on how awful pain is and expecting it to worsen) actually amplifies pain processing in the brain. Using low-risk CBT techniques over the course of several weeks, however, alters brain structure. It learns to ratchet down pain signals, which enhances the effectiveness of medical interventions and helps patients reduce their need for doctors and pills.

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