Psychological Treatments and Psychotherapies in the Neurorehabilitation of Pain: Evidences and Recommendations from the Italian Consensus Conference on Pain in Neurorehabilitation

Gianluca Castelnuovo, Giada Pietrabissa, Roberto Cattivelli, Francesco Pagnini, Giuseppe Riva, Claudia Repetto, Camillo Regalia, Enrico Molinari, Emanuele Maria Giusti, Gian Mauro Manzoni, Arianna Gatti, Stefania Corti, Margherita Novelli, Valentina Villa, Andrea Pietro Cottini, Carlo Lai, Federica Scarpina, Andrea Mauro Brioschi, Brenda Kay Wiederhold, Donatella SaviolaSamantha Gabrielli, Marco Lacerenza, Chiara A. M Spatola, Lorys Castelli, Mario Tavola, Riccardo Torta, Marco Arreghini, Loredana Zanini, Amelia Brunani, Paolo Capodaglio, Guido E D'Aniello, Lorenzo Priano, Alessandro Mauro, Paolo Notaro, Stefano Paolucci, Giorgio Sandrini, Susan G Simpson, Stefano Tamburin

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48 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: It is increasingly recognized that treating pain is crucial for effective care within neurological rehabilitation in the setting of the neurological rehabilitation. The Italian Consensus Conference on Pain in Neurorehabilitation was constituted with the purpose identifying best practices for us in this context. Along with drug therapies and physical interventions, psychological treatments have been proven to be some of the most valuable tools that can be used within a multidisciplinary approach for fostering a reduction in pain intensity. However, there is a need to elucidate what forms of psychotherapy could be effectively matched with the specific pathologies that are typically addressed by neurorehabilitation teams. OBJECTIVES: To extensively assess the available evidence which supports the use of psychological therapies for pain reduction in neurological diseases. METHODS: A systematic review of the studies evaluating the effect of psychotherapies on pain intensity in neurological disorders was performed through an electronic search using PUBMED, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Based on the level of evidence of the included studies, recommendations were outlined separately for the different conditions. RESULTS: The literature search yielded 2352 results and the final database included 400 articles. The overall strength of the recommendations was medium/low. The different forms of psychological interventions, including Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, cognitive or behavioral techniques, Mindfulness, hypnosis, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Brief Interpersonal Therapy, virtual reality interventions, various forms of biofeedback and mirror therapy were found to be effective for pain reduction in pathologies such as musculoskeletal pain, fibromyalgia, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, Central Post-Stroke pain, Phantom Limb Pain, pain secondary to Spinal Cord Injury, multiple sclerosis and other debilitating syndromes, diabetic neuropathy, Medically Unexplained Symptoms, migraine and headache. CONCLUSIONS: Psychological interventions and psychotherapies are safe and effective treatments that can be used within an integrated approach for patients undergoing neurological rehabilitation for pain. The different interventions can be specifically selected depending on the disease being treated. A table of evidence and recommendations from the Italian Consensus Conference on Pain in Neurorehabilitation is also provided in the final part of the paper
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)N/A-N/A
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • chronic pain
  • clinical psychology
  • health psychology
  • neurological rehabilitation
  • pain
  • psychological treatments
  • psychotherapy


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