Separating Pain and Suffering: Intro to Nerve Glides, Mirror Therapy, and More

February 14, 2019

I’d like to introduce you two people who are pioneering the way we understand pain. Their names are Lorimer Mosely and David Butler.


These two people are inventing innovative new treatments for pain, and researching the role of the brain in chronic pain. I’ll start with David Butler.


If you have heard of Mirror Therapy or Nerve Glides then you’ve already heard of the work of David Butler.


Mirror therapy is a technique that David created to help facilitate a healthy connection between the brain and the region of our body that is experiencing pain. This is especially useful for things like Complex Regional Pain Syndrome or Phantom limb pain. However, if can also be useful for more common problems like arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome.


The idea is to actually “trick your brain” which can change the synapses in your brain to help your body correctly respond the once practical but now useless pain signals being sent from your hand. You can check out the video below to see David Explain it himself.



The next fascinating treatment David has developed for chronic pain is called nerve glides.


Nerves are covered in a “Myelin sheath”. A simple way to imagine this sheath is to think of a piece of spaghetti wrapped in Saran wrap. This Saran wrap, or “Mylein sheath” protects the nerve as it sends sensory signals from your body to your brain.


After a trauma to any part of your body. You might develop restrictions in your myelin sheath which can cause your nerve to send pain signals to your brain. By “gliding” these nerves within their sheath, you can eliminate this restriction and eliminate your pain.


Unlike a yoga position which is generally held for a few cycles of breath, nerve glides involve short quick movements in and our of “tensioners” and “relievers” of your nerves. Here is David again showing nerve glides for radial and ulnar nerves in the arm.



Now, onto Lorimer Mosely.


Lorimer has a fascinating TED talk where he describes the time he was walking through the Australian wilderness when he was scratched on his leg by a stick. After thinking nothing of it any carrying on, Lorimer eventually realized that the “stick” was actually a bite from an extremely venomous snake.


Six months later, walking along, Lorimer was scratched by a stick and felt terrible pain coming from his leg. After realizing that he was not in fact bit by a snake this time, the pain immediately went away. You can see his insightful TED talk here.



Understanding the difference between pain and suffering can be instrumental towards improving the life of patients with chronic pain. Pain is a physical sensation. Suffering is the emotional response to this pain. These techniques are a great start to both understanding and dealing with our pain.  


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