Usually, when someone suffers an injury, the pain lasts until healing is complete. But if you suffer from chronic pain, you know it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes wires get crossed during the healing process. Things go wrong, and pain becomes chronic, even after the original injury has healed.
You can cope with chronic pain, and even recover from it, without the use of painkillers. The answer could be graded motor imagery, or GMI. Graded motor imagery is a new, drug-free treatment for chronic pain that uses physical therapy exercises to retrain your brain’s reaction to pain signals.
What Chronic Pain Does to the Brain
GMI works primarily on a part of your brain known as the motor and sensory strips. This part of your brain controls the sensations you feel in your body, and the movements you make. Each part of your body has a corresponding area in the motor and sensory strips, and this forms a sort of neurological map of your body known as a cortical or sensory homunculus. This is your brain’s picture of what your body looks like and how it functions. Some parts of this picture, like the hands and mouth, however, are disproportionately large because these areas take up a disproportionately large amount of space in the motor and sensory strips, due to the larger amount of sensory input they receive and the many movements they make.
When you suffer an injury and experience ongoing pain, the brain’s perception of what that area looks like in the homunculus can become vague, almost as if the picture has been smudged. This confuses the brain, and can cause it to continue producing pain signals in an effort to identify that part of the homunculus. The result is chronic pain. However, GMI can retrain your brain to view your body normally, relieving chronic pain. You can find a GMI practitioner by searching pain management center near me.
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How GMI Works
GMI uses a three-step process to clarify your sensory homunculus so that the brain can stop sending pain signals. The three steps are:
- Left-right discrimination training. People experiencing chronic pain lose the ability to distinguish a left body part from a right body part. Restoring this ability is vital to healing.
- Explicit motor imagery. Did you know that thinking about moving a body part, even without moving it, stimulates the same parts of your brain as moving it? Imagining moving your injured body part helps your brain restore this part of the sensory homunculus.
- Mirror therapy. If you hold your right hand in front of a mirror and move it, you can fool your brain into thinking you’re moving your left hand. Mirror therapy teaches your brain that your painful body part can move normally without pain.
Research has shown that GMI is effective for many forms of chronic pain, including complex regional pain syndrome and phantom limb pain. Because it restores normal function to the brain without the need for surgery or painkillers, GMI could be an affordable, safe treatment for many of the 100 million Americans currently suffering from chronic pain.
About the Author
Tiffany Rowe is a leader in marketing authority, she assists Seek Visibility and their clients in contributing resourceful content throughout the web. Tiffany prides herself in her ability to create and provide high quality content that audiences find valuable. She also enjoys connecting with other bloggers and collaborating for exclusive content in various niches. With many years of experience, Tiffany has found herself more passionate than ever to continue developing content and relationship across multiple platforms and audiences.
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