FOR PATIENTS

Are you in pain? Awful pain – interfering with everything you love to do – exercising, gardening, playing with your children, work or even the basic things like sitting, standing, driving, cooking, or listening to music.

Have you tried to get help without success? Perhaps, you went to several doctors, but they couldn’t find anything wrong. Or, you were diagnosed with back or neck pain, presumably from arthritis, a bulging disc, or spinal stenosis. Or, you received a diagnosis that has no known cause and no known treatment such as fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, migraine headaches, tinnitus or chronic fatigue syndrome.

Maybe you were sent to specialists where you were prescribed many trials of medications, physical therapy or even surgery. You couldn’t tolerate the side effects or it just didn’t help. Or, it did help, but then a different pain symptom appeared.

People are starting to imply that it is “all in your head.” But, you know your pain is real. You aren’t imagining it. Why would you make this up? It is ruining your life. You would give anything to be rid of it.

Maybe you’ve been told you may have to learn to live with your pain. So, you decided to explore alternative medicine – herbal remedies, vitamins, deep tissue massage, acupuncture, energy healing. Some of these would help for awhile, but the pain always returns – it never completely goes away. Your life is still not back to normal.

You are doing all the right things – Why aren’t you getting better? Your pain is real. And it isn’t your fault. The problem is that you may have the wrong diagnosis. If your diagnosis is wrong, then the treatment will be wrong and you won’t get better. While you may not have a serious disease, you may have a medical condition and the good news is that it may be a medical condition that can be treated.

You are not alone and your experience is not uncommon. We now know that unresolved stress from both past and current traumas can actually cause pain and other symptoms in the body. This experience is a universal phenomenon. Has your face ever turned red when embarrassed? Have you ever gotten “butterflies” before a performance or speech? Such symptoms are a physiologic response in your body to uncomfortable emotions and thoughts in your mind.

You need not feel ashamed, embarrassed or frightened anymore. This is how our bodies work. Your body is not damaged. These pain signals are being transferred through normal nerves conducting normal signals to healthy tissue. The good news is that just as your mind and body has LEARNED these pain pathways, it can also UNLEARN them.

The healing path involves an understanding of the effect of stress on the body, practice in breaking the mind’s conditioned responses, a change in how you treat yourself as you interact with the world around you and sometimes, a closer look at the stressors and unresolved emotions underlying your pain.

I know this because it happened to me. After 10 years of chronic pain, I went from not being able to lift a dinner plate without arm pain, listen to music without ear pain or walk a few yards without limping to completing a triathlon, a life long goal. I just needed the right diagnosis and the right treatment path to follow. You, also, can unlearn your pain pathways.