The minds involvement in chronic pain
Chronic pain is defined as ‘a pain with no biological value’. Pain is classed as chronic if it persists longer than 12 weeks after physical healing should have taken place. The standard NHS help for chronic pain includes medication, physiotherapy and chiropody. Most health professionals will look for a mechanical failure where chronic pain is the issue even siting degeneration as the cause. That degeneration is in fact natural and can not be responsible for the amount of pain people feel. What if by accepting that our pain is purely mechanical we are actually prolonging and making it worse?
The most common chronic pain is back pain which effects 8 out of 10 people in the USA alone. Many long term sufferers end up opting to have quite evasive and risky surgery even though the success rates are estimated to be around 24%. I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t be happy taking such a big risk with odds as poor as those?
Chronic pain is viewed by the medical profession and most of us in the western world as a mechanical one. If we have a pain we assume something is broken. Of course we can damage bones, bruise and cut ourselves etc causing physical damage. But have you ever wondered how, simply bending over in the shower or sitting in a car too long can cripple us? How can typing, swinging a tennis or golf club (repetitive strain injury) or anything that we’ve done pain free all our lives suddenly cause us severe and persistent pain?
If you look at chronic back pain for example. When a sufferer complains of back pain they have an X-ray or MRI scan which usually shows degeneration in one form or another. The logical conclusion is that this is what is ‘causing’ the pain! But if you were to scan a group of healthy peoples backs about 50% of them will exhibit signs of wear and tear accredited to back pain before the age of 50. At 65 that figure rises to 100%. So why aren’t those people racked with pain?
Of course chronic pain is not only located in the back, it can be located anywhere in joints, tendons, tissues and nerve endings. For some it can move locations. It can vary in intensity and flare such as in the case of migraines.
How do I know what is causing my chronic pain?
Of course serious medical conditions like cancer should always be ruled out by a medical professional before you start to look elsewhere for answers to your pain. Self diagnosis is never a good idea when pain or discomfort is an issue. When potentially serious issues have been ruled out where do you go?
Can my chronic pain be maintained by my mind.
First you need get your head around the fact that the mind and the body are as one. Pain can be generated physiologically through damage but also emotionally by trauma. Your subconscious mind believes that emotional pain is too strong to feel it will be felt physically in the form of chronic pain. To the mind the two are the same. The areas of the brain that process emotional pain and physical pain are located in the same place.
How is the pain caused if it’s being generated by me?
Pioneering Chronic pain specialist Doctor John E Sarno calls this problem Tension Myoneural Syndrome (TMS) formally known as Tension Myositis Syndrome. It is when the nervous system causes a slight oxygen depravation in the muscles, nerves, tissues and tendons of the body causing pain.
Who is more likely to suffer from chronic pain?
People who have been repressing anger and guilty feelings from adverse childhood experiences. Over achievers and workaholics. Perfectionists, strict rule followers and people pleasers. People with low self esteem or with inferiority complexes. Single minded, financially driven people living stressful lives commonly suffer from inner repressed anger.
What can I do about my chronic pain?
1. Firstly accept that your mind and body are connected and that your pain is being created by your minds resistance to your current life style or your inner reluctance to face the traumas of the past. The belief that your pain is purely structural only validates it and keeps you locked in the cycle of pain.
2. Find the cause of your pain which is usually created by repressed anger. Hypnotherapy can do that because it works with the subconscious mind where past memories and beliefs are stored.
3. Create positive neural pathways to replace unwanted existing pain pathways. By focusing on your pain you have inadvertently strengthened your pain pathways and made your pain worse.