Are you in pain? Pain that interferes 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? You have probably been 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.
Have you tried multiple treatments without success? Maybe you were 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 the pain returned or a different pain symptom appeared.
Are people 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 and have your life back.
Have you been told you will have to learn to live with your pain? So, you decided to explore alternative medicine – herbal remedies, vitamins, deep tissue massage, acupuncture, detoxification and 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 the mind when under severe stress can activate neural pathways in the brain that can actually cause real pain and other physical symptoms in the body. This experience is a universal phenomenon; it is just part of being human. Has your face ever turned red when embarrassed? Have you ever gotten “butterflies” before a performance or speech? Such symptoms are physiologic responses in your body to uncomfortable thoughts and emotions in your mind which are mediated by neural pathways in the brain.
You need not feel ashamed, embarrassed or frightened anymore. Your body is not damaged. This is just how our human bodies work. 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.
There is a way out. The healing path involves an understanding of how and why the mind creates pain in the body through learned neural pathways, and how to turn off these signals. The key is understanding that chronic pain is not a pain problem – it is a “danger” problem. When the mind believes that you are in danger, it will activate neural pain pathways in the brain to try and protect you – just like if you were to break a leg, it would be your mind creating the pain, not your leg – so that you would stop and get help. The mind will create pain and other physical symptoms to try and protect you from the danger – whether it is a perceived “internal” danger coming from inside your body, or a perceived “external” danger coming form outside your body. Like breaking a leg, life’s stressors can be a perceived as a “danger” to your mind which will activate these neural pain pathways to try and protect you. It is up to us to understand the message.
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. You have nothing to lose – but your pain !