Chronic Pain

Could Your Chronic Pain Be Stemming from Your Brain?

It’s completely understandable to feel upset if someone suggests your pain is just in your head. However, it’s crucial to recognize that pain does originate entirely in the brain. 

This doesn’t diminish the validity of your pain; rather, it underscores the intricate connection between your brain and your body’s sensations. In the case of chronic pain, your brain plays a significant role in sustaining it.

Pain serves as a sophisticated warning system designed to safeguard you from harm. 

For instance, when you stub your toe, your peripheral nervous system transmits signals from the injury to your brain. Subsequently, your brain evaluates the severity of the situation.


Depending on its assessment, your brain may amplify the pain signals until the issue is resolved, or it may dampen the pain response if it perceives minimal danger.

This system works well for managing acute pain, such as a toe injury. However, in chronic conditions like osteoarthritis (OA), where there’s no swift resolution for issues like cartilage loss in the knee, the regions of the brain responsible for transmitting and receiving danger signals can become increasingly sensitive over time. 

Researchers suggest that as the brain continually processes pain signals, it becomes more hyper-sensitive, eventually remaining in a state of heightened alertness.

When the brain detects potential danger, it generates pain signals in the area it perceives as the source of the threat. 

For instance, if you step on a nail with your bare foot, nerve signals travel to your brain to assess the level of danger. The brain evaluates various inputs, including past experiences, to gauge the extent of the threat. Subsequently, it sends pain signals of appropriate intensity from the brain to your foot.

A deeper understanding of this process, coupled with the imperative to explore alternatives to pain medications, has sparked renewed interest in utilizing EEG biofeedback. 

Unlike pharmaceuticals, EEG biofeedback doesn’t merely mask or dull chronic pain. 

Instead, it aims to normalize or recalibrate the brain’s heightened alert system. This approach can significantly alleviate pain without the need for drugs—often providing relief for individuals experiencing chronic pain for the first time.

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