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Pain is a perception and for people who suffers from chronic pain, the permanent nature of it changes the way the brain perceives it. 

From the Latin nocere (“to harm”) and captere (“to receive”), the term nociception may sound strange, but everyone has already experienced it: it is the defensive function by which a stimulation likely to damage a tissue is transmitted to the brain, which assesses the pain and reacts accordingly.

Studies indicate that, in the case of chronic pain, the pain can be relieved by re-educating certain regions of the brain.

Anatomie de la douleur


If the short-term benefits of osteopathic treatments on chronic pain are well documented, those in the long term are rather unknown.

The manual manipulations performed by osteopaths help to change the sensory information sent to the brain by sore muscles and joints. “Studies show that, in order to have a lasting effect on the different regions of the brain involved in the perception of pain, treatments must be repeated over a certain period in order to modify the functioning of the brain related to pain”.


Similarly, the manipulations must in particular target the dysfunctional regions and not only the pain itself, stimulate the peripheral receptors to awaken the sensorimotor process and be based on exercises that the patient must do between treatments.

Some brain mechanisms involved in the reduction of chronic pain during osteopathic treatments are not specifically activated by osteopathy and depend more on the context of the treatment, such as the patient's perception, expectations and beliefs with regard to the treatment itself, and the therapeutic alliance between patient and therapist.

This contextual mechanism leads to physiological effects that arise from cognitive, affective and motivational processes in the brain that are observed in osteopathy as well as in ergonomics or physiotherapy, for example,

Finally, certain pain amplifiers, such as fear, anxiety, somatization, catastrophizing and depression, can also be reduced by the approach of the osteopath in collaboration with other health care providers. These professionals can play an educational role with their patients regarding the nature of the mechanisms of chronic pain and teach them, among other things, to recognize the biases they have with respect to pain.

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