EMDR Therapy for Chronic Pain
What is EMDR?
Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) is a specific type of psychotherapy that is most commonly used in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
EMDR involves recalling traumatic events while engaging in a series of rapid, rhythmic eye movements and gradually shifting to more positive thoughts. This can help weaken negative emotions associated with traumatic events.
EMDR therapy for chronic pain
Various types of psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), are beneficial in the treatment of chronic pain. Since chronic pain may involve changes in the brain and nervous system that are similar to the changes seen with PTSD, EMDR may also be an effective therapy for individuals with chronic pain.
EMDR therapy for chronic pain involves focusing on pain-related memories, current pain sensations, or anticipated stressful or painful situations while engaging in rapid eye movements. Focusing on these thoughts while engaging in rapid eye movements may reduce pain intensity. In some cases, the pain relief from EMDR may be enough to reduce or eliminate pain medications and reduce disability. It may also improve mood and help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Maximum pain relief generally occurs with a minimum of six to eight EMDR sessions.
Initial studies and research suggest that EMDR therapy may be more effective at reducing pain than other psychotherapeutic techniques such as CBT. However, additional studies are needed to further investigate the effectiveness of EMDR therapy for chronic pain and to help develop specific treatment recommendations and protocols.