Pain is a key sensory system that warns us when we need to stop and take care of ourselves.  It has considerable survival value, however when we’ve dealt with the situation, or the wound has healed, we’d rather the pain would subside, completely, as it’s now more of a distraction to the pursuit of our daily lives.  Pain perception and active coping involves specific brain areas.  With neurofeedback we can train these areas for a more optimal approach.

Chronic pain affects between 35-50% of the UK population, yet pain management is inadequate in 40-60% of cases.

Dealing with chronic pain has always been a challenge.  Drugs and medication offer temporary reprieve; this often comes at the expense of side effects, and the risk of habituation or even addiction.  Moreover, our brain might even become resistant to the dose and the pain continues, should we not use even more.

Furthermore, pain is subjective – it manifests itself in many facets, including emotions, fear, helplessness, and at the very least it’s a distraction.  When it’s chronic, we may be able to mask its effects, but that’s not to say the sensation infiltrates our general conduct and behaviour, our interactions, our mental calm and decision making.  Increased agitation will affect our sleep and demeanour.

Pain is a perception.  We integrate sensory stimulus with information from previous experiences, including emotions, amount of attention, and expectations about the pain.  This means that if we can target higher order processes that regulate how we manage this information assimilation, and reduce its sensitivity to manageable levels, we can potentially break the cycle.  This is what neurofeedback aims at.  Recent clinical outcomes indicate that the technique of EEG (brain wave) biofeedback can be used to break the cycle and lead to a major decrease or (more rarely) even the total elimination of chronic pain.  Calming, both physical and emotional, is what neurofeedback aims at, and this can be a valuable intervention in the negative feedback cycle that is chronic pain. 

Neurofeedback is not a substitute for finding the underlying cause of pain, which should be thoroughly investigated by medical means as a primary remedy. 

Contact Us for more publications on the topic of pain and neurofeedback.

Research Supporting Neurofeedback Efficacy for Chronic Pain

Chronic Pain patients experienced a 44% reduction in pain following neurofeedback.

Chemotherapy patients experienced a 45% reduction in pain, reporting a significant improvement in pain severity, numbness, fatigue and quality of life, with effects still upheld four months after neurofeedback treatment. 

Fibromyalgia patients saw an 82% reduction of fatigue, depression and anxiety, and an increase in social and physical functioning; these effects were upheld.  Another fibromyalgia study with different neurofeedback protocols achieved a 39% improvement, and another found a 55% improvement.  Neurofeedback training improved functional connectivity in somatomotor areas leading to reduced impact of fibromyalgia and pain symptoms and improved quality of life.

Complex regional pain syndrome sufferers achieved a 42% reduction in pain, muscle spasm, muscle tension, and in increase in well-being.

Central Neuropathic Pain resulting from Chronic Spinal Cord Injury saw a clinically significant 33% reduction in pain, interestingly using home-based equipment.  Central neuropathic pain has a 40% incidence in patients with spinal chord injury.  Another study found a 30% reduction in pain with a concurrent “pleasant warmth replacing unpleasant sensations”. 

Case examples from the EEGInfo Institute in Los Angeles demonstrate how neurofeedback can be effective:

“A case in point is “Ted” (not his real name), who was nearly electrocuted. Three years later he was still “…suicidal with agony.” He had been to a number of psychiatrists, and some of the
medications they provided helped for a while, but the pain always returned. In great desperation, he came in to have his pain sensitivity retrained with EEG biofeedback. After only a few sessions, his pain was reduced to where it no longer bothered him, and he returned to a normal life.

Another example is “Jack,” who came in with a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, a kind of whole body pain, along with chronic fatigue syndrome. Within three weeks, he was free of what he described
as “bone-crushing pain” for the first time in six years. He went on and did a number of additional sessions of EEG biofeedback to consolidate his gains, but the major difference was made early on

One of the most gratifying examples of the power of EEG biofeedback to relieve pain was the case of “Doris,” who underwent hip-replacement surgery in April of 1996. After several months, the pain was still at “six” on a scale of 1-10 despite heavy medication, and she continued to require crutches to walk. She began a program of EEG biofeedback and within a month the pain had been reduced by half. By November she was no longer using crutches and began to be able to make dance movements, while having greatly reduced episodes of significant pain. As of the writing of this article, she is essentially pain-free, and only uses medication occasionally at night. Now she is even able to do a bit of running.”

Source:  “New Hope for Sufferers of Chronic Pain” by Siegfried Othmer

Subjective pain perception was significantly reduced in acute whiplash patients in this study.

Neurofeedback is a form of complementary therapy and should not be seen as a replacement for conventional medicine.  qEEG brain map-based neurofeedback training takes a more holistic approach to brain functioning, rather than just focusing on medical symptoms.  It is not intended as a form of diagnosis nor medical intervention nor medical advice per the disclaimer.

Neurofeedback for Fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia patients report significantly improved pain severity and interference, fibromyalgia symptom severity, sleep latency and sustained attention following eight weeks of neurofeedback training.  

A separate study finds significant improvement in cognitive dysfunction, fatigue, pain, sleep, depression and overall activity level in fibromyalgia sufferers,  further illustrating the debilitating comorbidities of this condition. 

Fibromyalgia patients saw an 82% reduction of fatigue, depression and anxiety, and an increase in social and physical functioning; these effects were upheld.  Another fibromyalgia study with different neurofeedback protocols achieved a 39% improvement, and another found a 55% improvement.  Neurofeedback training improved functional connectivity in somatomotor areas leading to reduced impact of fibromyalgia and pain symptoms and improved quality of life.

Chronic pain sufferers of Spinal Chord Injury found immediate and lasting effects on pain intensity from neurofeedback training. 

Brain Maps and Personalised Brain Training

Kaiser Neuromap brain maps and Brodmann areas

Brain Maps expose Individual Vulnerabilities

With a Kaiser Neuromap, we can identify character traits, vulnerabilities and strengths. 

Different brain areas and networks govern our behaviour.  For example, there are parts of our brain which control mood regulation; spatial distractibility; physiological arousal; our sense of self; self-critical thoughts; anger and emotional attachment; and there are various sources of anxiety.

A brain map shows us which brain areas are behaving immaturely, and thus expose us to vulnerabilities or mental health issues.

Rather than fitting people into categories – diagnosis – we can assess vulnerability to behaviour patterns.  Every brain is different.  A brain map provides a more granular approach to understanding our strengths and weaknesses.

Neurofeedback process explained, illustrating real-time analysis of brain waves and feedback given

Personalised Brain Training with Neurofeedback

Neurofeedback lets us train dysrythmic brain areas.  With sensors comfortably fitted to the brain areas we want to train, we detect brainwave patterns real-time while watching a movie.  When these patterns are inefficient, the volume drops momentarily.  This is the feedback we are giving our brain, short and instantaneously.  

The brain area we are training recognises this – while our conscious mind is focussed on the movie – and adjusts its behaviour to restore the normal volume.  With repetition, throughout a session, learning occurs.  

Meanwhile our conscious mind is solely focussed on the movie; the training process is passive in this sense.    

The drop in volume is subtle, so we continue to understand the flow of the movie.  No current or electrical stimulation is fed to the brain; sensors simply read brainwaves and the feedback is purely audio-visual.

Neurofeedback is preconscious brain training aimed at enhancing our mental, emotional and spiritual health

Neurofeedback trains our Pre-Conscious Mind

 

Rather than engaging the conscious mind, which slows us down, we are training preconscious processes

This equips us with the ability to live in the moment and attain our potential (if we have to resort to conscious control, we are not living in the moment).

Personalised Brain Training is an advanced qEEG brain map-based approach to neurofeedback training developed by the founders of the field.  Taking Othmer Method / ILF training methods further, it employs Default Network Training protocols as developed by David Kaiser.

We take a holistic approach to healthy brain self-regulation, rather than categorisation or diagnosis. 

Neurofeedback is evidence-based complementary therapy with over 2000 PubMed peer-reviewed research reports

Neurofeedback is Evidence-based

Neurofeedback training is an evidence-based complementary therapy.  Its efficacy was first demonstrated some 50 years ago, and with advances in technology, training protocols have become more efficient and the feedback method – watching movies – thoroughly enjoyable. 

Neurofeedback is evidence-based.  It’s first application was discovered in 1971 when it was used to resolve intractable epilepsy. 

There are over 2,000 peer-reviewed research reports on PubMed demonstrating efficacy across a number of pathologies. 

In the US, it is an accepted complementary treatment for many challenges. 

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