By Larry Burk, MD, CEHP
Chronic pain is an epidemic that fuels the opioid crisis around the country. Billions of dollars are spent on expensive and invasive therapies like surgery, injections and medications. These approaches are sometimes not more effective than placebo for chronic pain and may result in only transient short-term benefits.
One of the pioneers of an alternative mind body approach to chronic pain was John Sarno, MD, who retired in 2012 after several decades on the faculty at NYU and just passed away in 2017. His most famous book was Healing Back Pain with many case histories of amazing success, but he was criticized for never doing any formal research on his method.
Fortunately, some of his proteges have finally done the research and published a randomized controlled trial comparing what Howard Schubiner, MD, refers to as Emotional Awareness and Expressive Therapy to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for fibromyalgia showing excellent results for pain. I am now combining his Unlearn Your Pain approach with EFT.
Dr. Sarno originally described Tension Myoneural Syndrome (TMS) as a psychosomatic condition which has now been renamed Psychophysiological Disorder (PPD) by modern researchers. When patients are focused on the particular part of the body that is in pain, they resent being told it is all in their head. However, saying that it is all in the brain is a more acceptable explanation.
The basic premise is that neural pathways get set up in the brain and spinal cord in response to emotionally dangerous situations in the past which do not go away by themselves once the danger has passed. A cognitive understanding of this process lays the foundation for addressing the fear at the root of the pain.
There are a number of useful ways of dealing with these persistent neural pathways including Expressive Writing and Mindfulness, as well as Intensive Short-term Dynamic Psychotherapy. EFT is a particularly effective approach which uses meridian tapping to rewrite what can be thought of as malware programs in the brain through a process known as memory reconsolidation.
Join us at Duke Integrative Medicine for Tapping into Health: Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) for Self-Healing. An intensive four-week experiential program featuring group tapping exercises and individual tapping demonstrations for a variety of topics. Click here to register now! To read more blogs and articles please visit: www.larryburkmd.com
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