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Your Brain & Pain

You can rewire your brain. Really, it’s true! The same changes that occur in the brain with learning and that create behavior changes can be used to your advantage to help manage your pain, manage anxiety, address depression, and rewire the brain after PTSD or addiction. This ability of the brain to constantly adapt, learn, and essentially become rewired is called neuroplasticity. We can actively control the direction that this wiring takes through insight and conscious effort. This alters the connections between neurons (brain cells) and the circuitry of the brain.


Neuroplasticity, which allows us to have some influence on our thinking, learning and patterns of behavior, is a very positive and fortunate thing for you. Before discussing the ability to therapeutically take advantage of this neuroplasticity, let us explore the dark side of neuroplasticity. A painful event, either physical or psychological, can create a stress or trauma response in the brain. This can lead to neuroinflammation, a resurfacing of prior traumas, as well as develop and strengthen worry and depression circuits in the brain. As a result, behavior patterns can form that really do not serve you well. Chronic pain can lead to chronic worry, insomnia, negative self-talk, and loss of hope. This may include irritability and lead to friction in love, friend, or work relationships. Fortunately, these negative consequences of pain can be overcome. Addressing this aspect of chronic pain is a key component of a comprehensive pain management program and is offered to you as part of the Connected Care Approach™ of The Denver Spine and Pain Institute.

Rewiring Your Brain

There are ways that you can use the adaptability of the brain to help manage your pain, improve your mental health, and enhance your quality of life. Working with a pain psychologist, such as Joy Simpson, LPC, of MindYourPain, or your own psychologist, can be very helpful in learning the skills, exercises and insights needed to turn your mind into a powerful tool for pain management. The therapeutic tools for self-healing come from treatment approaches such as:


  • Mindfulness training
  • Cognitive behavioral training
  • Acceptance therapy
  • Commitment therapy

Essentially, these tools teach you to become more aware of negative thought or behavior patterns and let them go or rethink them and rewire your brain in a positive way. This involves gaining insight into some of your own thought patterns that may not serve you well and gives you the ability to make those changes. Specifics of your therapeutic plan can be discussed and determined mutually with your pain psychologist. Some of the exercises that you may practice at home may include a wide variety of activities such as:

  • Meditation
  • Positive daily readings or reminders
  • Turning your focus towards the service of others
  • The calming practices of Yoga or Tai Chi
  • Writing or journaling
  • Other exercises that have personal meaning and power for you

Occasionally, the medical management of depression, insomnia, or anxiety is needed to help give you the mental energy to succeed at these practices. Your medical provider can assist with recommendations for diet, behavior, or medication changes to help. Controlling the neuroinflammation that comes with chronic pain, and altering your brain chemistry through healthy lifestyle changes including diet, sleep and exercise, can have a powerful influence on assisting you with your efforts towards rewiring your brain. Your care team at The Denver Spine and Pain Institute can help you on your journey towards better pain management and improved quality of life.

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Surpassing Traditional Pain Care

Effectively treating pain involves a multimodal approach, often addressing other factors that develop with chronic pain, such as depression and anxiety. At The Denver Spine and Pain Institute we know how difficult chronic pain can be to live with, but fortunately we have developed our exclusive Connected Care Approach™ to help you get back to the life you enjoy more quickly. As part of this approach, you can expect:

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Please contact us today to schedule an appointment. The Denver Spine and Pain Institute serves patients in Denver and the surrounding areas of Colorado.

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