Chronic pain is the most common global cause of functional and quality of life limitations. Although there are many effective therapies for the treatment of acute pain, chronic pain is often unsatisfactory. Against this background, there is currently an urgent need to develop innovative therapies that enable more efficient pain relief. Psychosocial factors play an important role in the development and persistence of chronic pain. Especially in patients with high levels of emotional stress, significant anxiety, or relevant psychological comorbidity, classical pain therapy approaches often fail. This is in line with the results of recent pain research, which has shown that dysfunctions in emotion processing have a significant influence on the persistence of pain symptoms. The recognition that pain can become chronic through maladaptive emotional processing forms the pathophysiological basis for the application of eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) in the treatment of chronic pain. In this sense, EMDR can be used as an established method for desensitizing and processing of emotional distress from trauma therapy specifically for processing emotional stress in patients with chronic pain. Against this background, it is not surprising that the implementation of EMDR for patients with chronic pain is expanding. However, the increasing clinical use of EMDR in the treatment of chronic pain has also led to a reputation to test the efficacy of EMDR in pain management through randomized clinical trials. In addition to numerous case control studies, there are now also six randomized controlled clinical trials available that demonstrate the efficacy and safety of EMDR in the treatment of different pain conditions. However, in order to overcome several methodological limitations, large multicenter studies are needed to confirm the results.
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Tesarz, J., Wicking, M., Bernardy, K., & Seidler, G. H. (2019). EMDR Therapy's Efficacy in the Treatment of Pain. Journal of EMDR Practice and Research, 13(4), 337–344. https://doi.org/10.1891/1933-318.104.22.1687
Journal of EMDR Practice and Research