The minds involvement in chronic pain
Pain is classed as chronic if it persists longer than 12 weeks after physical healing should have taken place. It is defined as ‘a pain with no biological value’. The standard NHS help for chronic pain includes medication, physiotherapy and CBT.
Chronic pain is viewed in the western world as a mechanical problem. If we have a pain we assume something is broken. Of course we can damage bones, bruise and cut ourselves etc causing physical damage resulting in acute pain. 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? Or why when the damaged area is healed are we still in discomfort?
Understandably (and correctly) health professionals look first for a mechanical failure where persistent pain is the issue. A series’s of diagnostic tests are undertaken until a problem is located and a course of remedial action recommended.
But what if the tests are inconclusive or the treatment ineffective? You may be left facing a life of constant discomfort and reliant on strong painkillers with potentially harmful side effects.
The most common chronic pain is back pain which effects roughly 8 out of 10 people. Many problems blamed for causing chronic pain are put down to degeneration. But most degeneration is in fact natural and can not be responsible for the amount of pain people feel. Many desperate long term sufferers even opt to have very evasive and risky surgery with success rates estimated to be around 24%.
If you were to scan a group of healthy peoples backs between the ages of 22 and 50 years old 50% of them will exhibit signs of wear and tear normally accredited to back pain. At 65 that figure rises to 100%. So why aren’t those people racked with pain?
Chronic pain can be located anywhere in the body, in joints, tendons, tissues and nerve endings. For some it can mysteriously move locations or vary in intensity or flare such as in the case of migraines.
The intensity of chronic pain often exceeds acute pain and it’s very real but in the majority of cases the pain is created by the brain to protect previously damaged areas of the body or as the result of suppressed anger. So if all tests have been exhausted and your doctor says “it’s all in your mind”, however hard it is to accept is true. The good news is if your mind is creating the discomfort it can be addressed using hypnosis.
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.