In Belgium, every year, nearly 75.000 patients are diagnosed with cancer. That’s 205 patients a day, 9 patients an hour.
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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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Many patients with chronic pain suffer from stress intolerance, and some patients have developed chronic pain during or following a stressful period or (life) event (e.g. motor vehicle accident, trauma exposure). When chronic pain is present, stress typically worsens the pain (severity). Taken together, stress and chronic pain are closely connected. In this blog post fascinating research findings regarding the effect of chronic stress on the brain are presented, providing a neuroscientific explanation why chronic stress may lead to the development of chronic pain.
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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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​Postmenopausal women with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer receive hormone therapy as part of their cancer treatment. One of the most frequently used and evidence-based hormone treatments are aromatase inhibitors (= inhibitors of the enzyme aromatase) that inhibit the conversion of androgens to estrogens. This results in decreased availability of estrogens and slowed progression of breast cancer.
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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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Interpreting scientific results in clinical practice can be, to say at least, challenging. Especially when it is somewhat contradictory to what you have heard during all those years of extensive training in both physiotherapy education and other courses. As one of my friends recently put it this way: ‘The more I learn about pain, the less I know and the more confused I get.’
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