Pain Medicine

Pain medicine developed from the initial desire to define the specific functionalities of the human body which play a role in the origination and perception of pain. The German Association for Pain Therapy (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Schmerztherapie) claims that approx. 15 million people suffer from constant pain. The treatment of pain patients is one of the most expensive areas of the healthcare system.

Both origination of pain and individual perception of pain are related to the degree of relaxation in the muscles and to the general degree of stress in the nervous system. Besides treating pain symptoms through medication (by prescribing pain killers), using specific methods to create states of relaxation has meanwhile become an established practice. Mental techniques (e.g. auto-suggestion, autogenic-training) or yoga, for example, can help create mental and physical relaxation.

Purely physiological relaxation methods have also been scientifically researched: floating has both an effect on the individual and subjective perception of pain as also on the autonomic nervous system, the system of pathways which transport pain impulses. A radical reduction of exterior sensory stimuli reduces stimulation of the nervous system so perceivably that overstimulation is reduced and pain is perceived as being less intense.
Relaxation and the reduction of sensory stimuli contribute to an increase in the release of endorphins and can thus be linked to pain relief also at bio-chemical level. A higher level of natural opiates in the blood of test persons was reliably tested in various examinations.

Jacobs, G., Heilbronner, R., and Stanley, J. The Effects of Short-Term Flotation REST on Relaxation: A Controlled Study. Health Psychology, 1984, 3, 99-112.

Jacobs, G., Kemp, J., and Belden, A. A Preliminary Clinical Outcome Study On A Hospital-Based Stress Management Program Utilizing Flotation REST and Biofeedback. Unpublished manuscript.

Fine, T.H. and Turner, J.W., Jr. The Effects of Brief Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy in the Treatment of Essential Hypertension. Behavior Research and Therapy, 20, 567-70, 1982.

Fordyce, W. and Steger, J., Chronic Pain in Pomerleau, O.F., and Brady, J.P. Behavioral Medicine: Theory and Practice, Baltimore: Williams and Wilkins, 1980.
Turk, D., Meichenbaum, D., Genest, M. Pain and Behavioral Medicine. New York, Guilford, 1983.

Turner, J.W., Jr. and Fine, T.H. Effects of Relaxation Associated with Brief Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) on Plasma Cortisol, ACTH, and LH. Biofeedback and Self-Regulation, 1983, 8, 115-126.

Turner, J.W. and Fine, T.H. Naloxone and Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy. Presented at the 15th Annual Meeting of the Biofeedback Society of America, Albuquerque, 1984.