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Pain Reprocessing Therapy

Specialized Expertise

Certified Providers

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What is Pain Reprocessing Therapy

 

Pain Reprocessing Therapy is an alternative approach to chronic pain treatment. PRT is based on pain neuroscience and focuses on the brain as the source of chronic pain.

 

When the brain perceives danger, the brain’s natural automatic alert system turns on and sends signals to the rest of the body. Some of the physical symptoms of the stress response are muscle tension, shallow breathing, tightness in the chest, a faster heart rate, and more. When the brain is in this state of danger often, we begin to experience chronic stress.

 

Chronic stress can lead to physical symptoms in the body, especially chronic pain. Pain itself can be a stressor, so the more pain we feel, the more fear and frustration we have, and then the more pain we then feel on top of that. This cycle repeats and becomes a habit for the brain.  Even if your pain started with an injury, after the injury has healed, pain can continue due to the neural pathways in the brain. 

Thoughts and emotions impact how we perceive pain. So perhaps you have a very stressful week at work and in response, your muscles tighten up. And then you begin to experience neck pain. The more neck pain you feel, the more frustrated you become, and that triggers even more pain. The next time you have a busy period at work, your brain remembers the neck pain from the last time and can create the sensation of pain based on your past experience. Now, this process becomes a habit.

Past trauma can also impact how you interpret and perceive pain.

PRT works by teaching you how to interpret pain signals without fear or frustration, thus breaking the cycle of pain. Medication, surgery, and other procedures can cause side effects. PRT is an alternative treatment that focuses on thoughts and behaviors around pain. 

Pain reprocessing therapy helps to “retrain your brain” to relate to the pain without fear or other intense emotions, like frustration or anger. Seeing the pain as safe and non-threatening helps your body respond to the stressor with more calm and ease. 

Chronic pain can impact your quality of life, making many daily tasks feel almost impossible. Our specialized approach to PRT helps you naturally ease your pain so you can feel relief and enjoy your life again. 

Yes - Your brain remembers pain

This is not to say that your pain is made up or "just in your brain".

 

Your pain is very real.

 

Pain Reprocessing Therapy (PRT) is not based on the idea that pain is made up or imagined. All pain is real, and what you are feeling is real, it is that your pain comes from your brain, rather than a structural problem in the body.

 

Many things can trigger the brain, including a movement, a thought, an emotion, food, or another stressor. The brain then sets off a variety of physical responses in the body, particularly pain. Then pain can become a cycle because you feel the pain and respond with more stress or fear. This fear can bring in a pain and fear cycle.

Pain Reprocessing Therapy changes how the brain receives the pain signal by changing the narrative and using emotional regulation techniques. Through repetition, you create a new association for your brain: “this pain is dangerous” becomes “this pain is just a sensation, and my body is not in danger.” Once your brain perceives the pain as safe and non-threatening, it can start to let go of the pain signals. In time, the pain gets better because the brain lets go of the neural pathways associated with pain. 

pain reprocessing therapy for pain cycle

Mind-Body Connection

The relationship between your mind-body connection is about understanding the link between your thoughts, behaviors, and habits to what happens physically in your body. What we feel in our body can also impact how we feel emotionally, like a feedback loop.

Conditioned responses also play a large role in chronic pain. Like Pavlov’s salivating dog (a dog hears a bell and starts salivating without food present), the brain perceives a threat or danger from a stressor and the brain sends pain signals out of habit. This creates what is called a neural pathway.

Our certified pain reprocessing therapists help you change your relationship to the stressors and resulting pain, thus changing neural pathways in the brain. We want to help you get to the root of your chronic pain: your brain. And when you can focus on the brain as the cause of pain, rather than a structural problem in the body, pain can finally reduce.

How we help

Joanne Simpson MSW, RSW has experienced her journey through painful migraines and has helped many patients through their pain journey over the years.

​She is passionate about empowering individuals to live fully and completely.

​Her passion for a better understanding of pain psychology drove her to learn directly from Alan Gordon, LCSW, Executive Director of the Pain Psychology Center in Los Angeles.

Joanne Simpson
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