Evidence to show THOUGHTS can produce Pain and Inflammation...Yes just THOUGHTS!!

Reference:Moseley GL, et al Thinking about movement hurts: the effect of motor imagery on pain and swelling in people with chronic arm pain. Arthritis Rheum. 2008 May 15;59(5):623-31.

You may have heard some patients say, ?Just thinking about movement, increases my pain?. This 2008 study by Lorimer Moseley set to prove the possibility that if simple mental imagery of movement could actually increase pain and swelling in patients with persistent arm and hand pain (e.g. CRPS).

Result #1: When patients were asked to look at a various pictures and only imagine doing the arm activities seen in the pictures, their pain and swelling was significantly greater post-task than pre-task.

Result #2: Increase in pain occurred most significantly in those with underlying high fear avoidance beliefs and catastrophic thoughts.

Result #3: The more vividly they imagined the movements, the greater the increase in pain and swelling.

Study Conclusion: firstly, some chronic pain states may be related to the cerebral cortex rather than actual tissue damage. Secondly, real-time inflammatory responses may occur without a trauma but simply due to a response from the autonomic nervous system from thoughts!

Clinical Relevance #2: Is pain complicated or what? In some patients we need to focus on cortical rehabilitation more than physical rehabilitation.

Posted on: August 23, 2010

Categories: Fascinating Pain Studies

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