A kind of therapy known as “pain reprocessing therapy” (PRP) was shown to be more effective than placebo or standard care for chronic back pain patients.
The National Institute of Health Services estimated in 2021 that 20% of the US population suffers from chronic pain. For these patients who live with chronic pain, their treatment plans often involve multiple medications, physical therapy, rehabilitation, and appointments with pain specialists. A notable development on another treatment for chronic pain—“pain reprocessing therapy” or “PRP”—has been reported in the JAMA Psychiatry journal by an interdisciplinary team of pain researchers in psychiatry, psychology, radiology, neuroscience, philosophy, and other related fields. The results of their randomized clinical trial suggests that the therapy can drastically decrease people’s pain perceptions.
In the study, the researchers randomized chronic back pain patients to three groups: a PRP group, a placebo group, and a group with the same pain treatment they had already been receiving. The patients in the PRP group completed eight individual hour-long therapy sessions twice weekly for four weeks. In the PRP sessions, patients were given tools to help with re-framing pain and decreasing the negative emotions associated with pain. The PRP group also worked on improving positive emotions despite feeling pain.
All patients in the study completed online assessments of their pain at regular intervals over a year. At study completion, the PRP group showed a significant decrease in pain compared to the placebo group and the group that received their usual care. Even more striking was that 73% of the PRP group reported being pain-free or nearly pain-free after treatment. These results suggest that PRP can be a powerful tool in the treatment of chronic pain patients.
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