Pain has always been a matter of interest to those involved in rehabilitation and medicine. Decades of research has led to the understanding that pain is an extensive and complex mechanism, influenced by thoughts, emotions, context, previous experiences, perceptions, etc.
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Manchikanti and colleagues (2011) make in their paper entitled ‘placebo and nocebo in interventional pain management: a friend or a foe – or simply foes?’ an argument for a revaluation of placebo effects in clinical practice. They make the claim that clinicians should not try to avoid the placebo effect, but should try to potentiate it, as this effect isn’t just unethical and mythical but must seen as a very real phenomenon, which can be understood from a vast body of both psychological and neurophysiological research.
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A new fascinating study from the Harvard Medical School (Boston, U.S.A.) adds to the evidence that conservative interventions can retrain the brain (ref. 1). Laura Simons and her colleagues reported marked differences in functional brain connectivity between pediatric complex regional pain syndrome patients and age-sex matched control subjects, but also normalization of such differences following in-house rehabilitation.
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Therapeutic pain neuroscience education (TPNE) is becoming increasingly popular as (part of) the treatment of (chronic) pain and aims at altering the patient’s thoughts and beliefs about pain. Previous research has demonstrated the efficacy of TPNE in the treatment of chronic pain. TPNE is mostly given in one-on-one sessions, which has limitations, as it is time intensive, cost intensive and limited to patients in remote areas. Pain in Motion previously showed that written TPNE does little to alter pain, pain cognitions or illness perceptions in patients with fibromyalgia.
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