• Chana Studley

Extinction Bursts!

There is a phenomenon in the pain world called Extinction Bursts. It means that often just when the pain is going away and we seem to be making great progress, it suddenly comes back. Here's an analogy to help explain. You are in the lobby of an office building with elevators going up and down. You press the button for your desired floor and wait. But then there is that person who starts pressing it over and over, suddenly they have no patience and keep pressing and pressing hoping it will make the elevator come faster. It doesn't and they get more frustrated and you start worrying that it's going to break and then nobody is going anywhere! Eventually the doors open and you all get on. ( Hopefully not to the same place they are lol )


An extinction burst is like the frantic button pressing, it won't give up without trying again ( and again ) to make it work faster. When pain has been with us for a long time and the brain has made a connection with frustration ( impatience, stress, anxiety etc. ) and pain, it may come back one or a few more times. It can be very disappointing, you thought you were free which makes the connection strong again.

Behavior modification and positive thinking can help but lets go further up stream.


When you see that it's a reliable system, that the elevator doors will open when they are supposed to and it's only our thinking that is creating the frustrating experience, we can get free of needing to do anything to make it happen. It's often the frantic doing that got us into trouble in the first place and so stepping back, not getting involved and being ok with what is, always works best. Fighting it and getting upset is only going to get us back into the viscous cycle.


So you may have set backs, a pain flare up or your symptoms get angry again, it's ok, its just a burst.

The fact that they went away means that A. it's not structural and B. the less you have on it, and the more compassion you can have for yourself, the quicker it can leave and you can go up and up as far as you like.

Hope that helps?

With love, Chana



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