More than 80% of medical visits today are related to chronic pain. This type of care has cost about $80 billion each year in the United States. According to the International Association for the Study of Pain “pain is unquestionably a sensation in a part or parts of the body but is always unpleasant and therefore also an emotional experience”.
Fox and Raichle (2007) indicate that long-term pain disrupts the balance of the “default mode network: (DMN), producing a widespread impact on overall brain functions. These disruptions of the DMN are believed to be related to the associated depression, anxiety, sleep disturbances, and faulty decision-making which plague chronic pain patients. The default mode network is a network of brain regions that are active when the individual is not focused on the outside world and the brain is at wakeful rest.
Chronic pain may originate in the body via brain and/or spinal cord. It can be difficult to treat therefore a more comprehensive approach is always recommended. However we have seen that experience of pain is linked to EEG, or brain waves. The intense pain sensation has been associated with a decrease in alpha activity and an increase in beta activity. Acute pain relief has been associated with decreases in beta and increases in alpha activity. Decreasing some types of medically-related pain has also been associated with rewarding SMR activity, a special frequency of low beta activity, and inhibiting theta activity.