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Archive for January 17th, 2011

Illustration of the pain pathway in René Desca...
Descartes’ pain pathway. Image via Wikipedia

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

A neuroscience-minded friend shared an interesting post (Mind-body: How mental, physical pain are linked) with me about the mind-body connection between physical pain and emotional pain. According to the post author, Dr. Raison,  associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University, and CNNHealth’s Mental Health expert, people experience both types of pain within the same region of the brain, the anterior cingulated cortex, or ACC. People subjected to short bursts of electrical shock (physical pain) had the same ACC region of their brain light up during pain that those that experienced a simulated emotional snub did. Researchers also found that medicating people with pain reliever, like Tylenol, helped them become more resistant to emotional pain. Not to tell everyone to start taking pain medication to deal with emotional pain. But this is an exciting area of research and I look forward to more posts from Dr. Charles Raison and CNN Health!

A few other ways to help reduce pain:

• Medication and relaxation techniques. Since the mind-body connection is so strong, relaxing your mind can also help reduce your reaction to hurt and pain

• Visiting a counselor or psychologist to learn new ways to cope with pain and also ways to heal from past hurts and emotional traumas

• Massage therapy an help reduce pain caused by tense or injured muscles. It can also help relax you and reduce your body’s reaction to stress.

• Accupuncture has been found to help relieve some types of pain and also to calm the nervous system

• Taking a break from TV news, loud music, and spending some time in quiet, relaxing spaces can help calm your nervous system as well

Learn more about the Pain Pathway from Discovery Health here.

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