Equinox, on Monday night, 9pm, Channel4, is about phantom limb pain, where people can still feel a limb after it has been amputated. What has this to do with RSI? I here you ask, well there may be something on how the nervous system works, and how it has a ‘memory’. This might be of interest to anyone with chronic pain which continues after the injury has healed – i.e. RSI sufferers.
Comment 1: I did watch it, and found it very interesting, but I came away not at all clear as to what’s actually known and what the implications might be for people with chronic pain. Melzack seemed to be very skeptical about the various theories and experiments that were being discussed. I did think the bit about “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome was very relevant. That’s presumably why it feels as though the painful area of an arm or a shoulder is enormous. The inflammation means that there’s more blood in that part, and the brain interprets that as an indication of size. Or have I got it all wrong? What did you think of the program? The scenes showing the artist modeling the missing hand were very moving, I thought.
Comment 2: Unfortunately I missed the first half of the program! The way I understood the “Alice in Wonderland” syndrome, from the program, was that there was more blood supplied to parts of the brain and less to other parts of the brain (temporarily). As a result the part of the body that is connected to the brain that has more blood flow felt larger and the part of the body that is connected to the brain that has less felt smaller. I think this is different from the ‘increase’ in size when your shoulder or whatever is painful. When your shoulder is painful it is probably just that you are more aware of it than usual. In all an interesting program, although it was dealing with a contentious area of research, as TV is wont to do.
Comment 3: I’ve been thinking of how I can put a mirror in the middle of my keyboard which could fool my brain into thinking my left hand is my right hand when I am typing! Of course, it may be worth going to my doctor and suggesting antiepilepsy drugs for pain control (my brother has epilepsy). Or perhaps hypnosis could fool my old brain. Perhaps a computer could be set up in the hall of mirrors and we could type with our good hands. Now that I understand why some people have foot fetishes and like having their toes sucked, perhaps I can use a similar reverse idea to transfer the pain to an adjacent part of the brain. What’s next to the shoulder/neck/ and hand bit of the cortex?