Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing as Treatment for Chronic Pain Syndromes: Literature Review

Angela J Tefft (1), Irma O Jordan (2)

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Background: Chronic pain is public health problem in the United States, costing upwards of $560 to $635 billion annually. Guidelines consistently recommend psychological treatment for chronic pain. Eye movement desensitization reprocessing (EMDR) psychotherapy may provide an alternate approach to treating chronic pain.

Objective: Review of literature to evaluate the effectiveness of EMDR in the treatment of chronic pain.

Method: A literature search of seven databases was conducted to find relevant studies addressing the use of EMDR for chronic pain.

Results: Most studies reported improvement in pain and psychological indices with EMDR.

Conclusions: Because most literature reported case studies, the results have limited generalizability. However, for clients who suffer from chronic pain, EMDR is a reasonable treatment alternative.

Keywords: EMDR; chronic pain; eye movement desensitization reprocessing; medically unexplained symptoms; somatization.

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