Chronic Pain – Mirror Box Therapy

Chronic Pain

Pierre Joubert/ Physiotherapist/Physio on Ross

What is chronic pain?

Pain can be described as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage. Chronic pain on the other hand is when pain has been present for longer than three months and the perceived pain is less related to actual tissue damage that is causing the pain.  Pain is used by the body as a warning system, when no illness or injury exists to protect, as described in chronic pain, pain is no longer an effective warning system. The experience of pain is real, but is the result of central sensitisation in the brain, and a failure to switch off the perception of pain.  Chronic pain is very disabling and various pain relief medications are used without much success.

What can physiotherapy do to help?

Physiotherapists will assess your ability to discriminate between left & right hand body parts. In chronic pain, the map of the body part on the brain becomes distorted and altered. This alteration may lead to increased sensitivity of the area.

Treatment is aimed at improving the perceived pain and to decrease the sensitivity of an area by retraining the brain.

Mirror box therapy is an effective way of doing so.  The damaged limb is inside the box and the other normal part is placed on the outside. A graded series of movements are done with the good limb, watching in the mirror and copied by the injured limb inside the mirror box. This helps reset the brain imagery. The speed and complexity of the movements can be altered.

Over time with much practice and repetition of tasks, the pain on movement will decrease and the right/ left recognition will improve in timing and accuracy. This process is known as graded motor imagery, utilising the brains neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity can also be described as brain remodelling.

If you suspect that your pain has become chronic and nothing seems to help, get yourself booked in to see one of our physiotherapists so that a full assessment can be made and the correct treatment can be provided. Remember we do not require a GP referral so call us today on 4728 2116.

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