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NEWS ITEMS - Will computers replace therapists? Therapeutic pain neuroscience education via e-mail.

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Therapeutic pain neuroscience education (TPNE) is becoming increasingly popular as (part of) the treatment of (chronic) pain and aims at altering the patient’s thoughts and beliefs about pain. Previous research has demonstrated the efficacy of TPNE in the treatment of chronic pain. TPNE is mostly given in one-on-one sessions, which has limitations, as it is time intensive, cost intensive and limited to patients in remote areas. Pain in Motion previously showed that written TPNE does little to alter pain, pain cognitions or illness perceptions in patients with fibromyalgia.

Taken this into account, it can be interesting to deliver TPNE (partly) through e-mail. Adriaan Louw (2014) recently published an innovative case report on this, describing a 32-year old chronic low back pain patient who underwent surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. The patient underwent a single one-on-one TPNE session, followed by TPNE via e-mail, pacing and graded exposure. Various measurements were taken pre-TNE and post-TNE, which revealed improvement of all outcome measures (pain, disability and fear-avoidance beliefs) after five e-mail sessions.

TPNE via e-mail holds potential for treating pain patients in remote areas or to individuals who have time and financial constraints. Future studies should reveal whether these compelling findings apply to a larger group of pain patients. This opens a perspective for exciting opportunities in the field of TPNE, but the need for personal contact with the chronic pain patient remains, in order to individualize the treatment.

Further reading:

Anneleen Malfliet

2014 Pain in Motion