Back Pain

Researchers Trying To Help People “Unlearn” Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common medical problems out there. It affects 8 out of 10 people at some point in their lifetime. Millions of people are coping with this condition, in various forms and pain levels, throughout their everyday lives. Performing daily tasks such as walking, sitting, standing for too long, and more, can cause severe pain for some people, while others may not even be able to get out of bed due to the severity of their back pain. Most people typically accept their fate, and continue living with their back pain for the rest of their lives. 

What Causes Back Pain?

The human body is a complicated specimen full of bones, ligaments, tendons, veins, muscle and so much more. Due to our complex structure, there are various ways that we can injure ourselves. We can strain muscles, sprain ligaments, rupture disks, and so much more. Even the simplest moves such as sitting down, sleeping wrong, or even picking up a pencil off the floor can cause unexpected back pain. It’s easy to see how some of us end up with back pain that lasts a lifetime. In addition, other medical conditions may impact health and lead to our backs deteriorating. Conditions such as arthritis, obesity, poor posture, and even stress can contribute to unruly back pain. 

Types of Back Pain

Back pain can range from dull, aching, sharp, sudden, or a combination of these. Acute back pain typically comes suddenly and can last for a few days or even a few months before going away. Chronic back pain is typically characterized as pain that lasts longer than 3 months and can cause issues throughout an entire lifetime. Some people find over-the-counter medication helpful. Others seek help through their primary care doctor, chiropractor, acupuncturist, or massage therapist. Some resort to surgery in search of pain relief. And although each of these methods can be helpful, none guarantees a cure or actual relief. 

“Unlearn” Back Pain

Since back pain is such a common medical condition, researchers at the University of Colorado  Boulder are studying a unique, drug-free way to relieve people of their back pain. This new treatment that is being tested is called reprocessing therapy. In this new study,  led by Dr. Yoni Ashar, he explains that “Changes in the brain cause the pain to persist. Basically, the brain learns the pain, and what we tried to do in this study was teach people how to unlearn the pain.” Ashar believes that the pain is always real but that it happens to start in the brain, and if that’s where it stems from then maybe that’s where he can find a solution. He believes that through this reprocessing therapy, people can “unlearn” back pain.

In a study of 150 people “66% of patients who had pain reprocessing therapy were pain-free or nearly pain-free after 4 weeks compared to 20% of the placebo group and 10% of the non-treatment group. Most maintained relief for a year. One such patient is Daniel Waldrip, who has suffered from back pain for over 20 years. Waldrip, like millions of others, accepted that he will live with this pain for the rest of his life after doctors failed to identify the source of his back pain. However, when he heard about this reprocessing therapy study, (also known as “unlearn” back pain therapy) he seized the opportunity to be part of it. After some time, Waldrip said “I started to believe that actually there was no injury, that no damage was being done. I didn’t get better right away. But that was the turning point.” Then four years down the line after this medical experiment he said “This changed everything for me. It gave me my life back.”

Back pain, or any pain for that matter, is never fun. And with so many people suffering from this condition, being able to “unlearn” back pain seems like a step in the right direction. This experimental therapy may be able to help millions of people in the world to relieve them from their discomfort and take their lives back. Whether it be acute or chronic, “unlearning” back pain may be the next step in our storied medical history. 






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