After an intensive 2 hour personal pain interview, we test the responses of your body to both stress and relaxation.
For the next six hours, we test you to understand how your brain copes with pain and to determine what needs to be done so that you can inhibit your chronic pain. We will apply various short electrical stimuli to your thumb and ring finger using small electrodes and you tell us how strongly you feel the various pulses. The duration of each stimuli is smaller than 100ms. We use 3 different stimuli – 1 stimulus is pain-free, and the 2 of the stimuli are adjusted based on your individualized pain tolerance. These stimuli provoke a short-term increase of your blood pressure.
During SET treatment, you get these 3 stimuli alternately every 5 seconds for 8 minutes on your thumb or ring finger. The stimulation increases your heart beat and the pressure in your carotid (an artery on the right and left sides of your throat) for a very short time.
The stimulation allows your baroreceptors, which have been tired and diminished by stress during the course of your disease, to awaken and be active again. These baroreceptors work like a door between your body and your brain. They transport bodily signals to your brain and in particular to your brain stem where chronic pain is inhibited. The more often these baroreceptors are activated by the stimulation, the faster your brain gets the information to inhibit the pain. Thus, over time, your pain is decreased and so is the often related hypertension and pain anxiety. Furthermore, the stimulation can improve sleep disturbances and promote general relaxation.
The stimulation must be combined with training of muscle perception included in psychological pain therapy, called extinction training, for long-term pain reduction and pain release. The extinction training is also necessary to reactivate other brain areas of the pain memory responsible for feelings and thoughts that may be out of balance.
These common “pain psychologies” include negative feelings such as sadness and helplessness as well as negative thoughts (“Why me?” or “Oh no, here it goes again” or “I can do nothing against this”), and behaviors that reinforce your pain (avoidance behaviors, attention to pain, other positive reinforcement of pain). Unfortunately, in most patients, pain-related distress, pain-related interference, and pain behaviors were learned automatically due to the chronic pain. SET therapy can help you positively change your behavior despite chronic pain.
Healthy behavior precedes the RECOVERY. Cardiovascular training activates the baroreceptors through breathing. SET takes a multimodal approach and finds a personal solution for you.