Research has proven with MRI results that the brain changes with chronic pain.
More recently we've learned that changing the inputs or messages to the brain, which is known to have plasticity, causes the brain to change. These are not emotional responses to fragile egos. This is real science showing the pain and symptoms of Complex Regional Pain Syndrome can be managed and possibly resolved using simple, inexpensive, practical methods. This is treating the source and not just band aiding the symptoms. This is very good news for sufferers.
Mirror Visual Feedback, or mirror therapy is based on the finding that visual input from a moving, unaffected limb re-establishes the pain-free relationship between sensory feedback and motor execution in the affected limb.
"Explain Pain" by David Butler and Lorimer Moseley discusses "smudging the neurotag". Persistent or chronic pain leads to changes in the brain. Our brain changes all the time and is dependent on input for information. We become more sensitive to pain, and the area of pain in the brain, the virtual body becomes more "smudged" or less clearly defined. This means that instead of pain being confined to an area, eg the shoulder, the pain spreads beyond the original site. (see Noi Group link to the left of this blog) Dr Lorimer Moseley (physiotherapist and co-author of "Explain Pain") employed a motor imagery program which entailed "two weeks each of hourly performance of hand laterality recognition task, imagined hand movements followed by mirror therapy." (from 8th International Physiotherapy Congress).
It is physical therapists who are embracing this new science of pain. They are involved in the research, practicing and training of therapists around the world.