A hi-tech brain imaging scan is being used to help patients "wish away" chronic pain.
The technology, which relies on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, is aimed at treating a range of pain problems, from backache and neuralgia, to nerve pain and migraine. It allows patients to see where the pain is coming from — then watch as their own positive thoughts drive it away.
Results from a pilot study show patients had a 64 per cent reduction in pain after having the therapy. Estimates of the numbers of people suffering chronic pain vary widely, from seven to 55 per cent of the population.
It is defined as continuous or intermittent pain or discomfort which lasts longer than three months. In some cases, the exact cause is not known.
Chronic pain is often unresponsive to conventional treatments such as conventional treatments such painkillers. However, studies have shown that it's possible to "think away" some chronic pain, or be distracted from it.
People with chronic pain who continue to socialise, for example, have fewer symptoms than those who withdraw from social interaction. But most people find it difficult to distract themselves and, instead, tend to concentrate on the pain, which makes symptoms worse.
The new treatment uses MRI scans to monitor blood flow in the brain — this identifies activity levels in the area involved in pain.
The patient is then given special goggles — similar to virtual reality goggles used in computer games — which show this area of activity, represented by the image of a burning flame. The greater the pain, the greater the blood flow, and the bigger the flame.
Source - Daily Mail