Where is my pain coming from?

You’ve had the images taken. You’ve tried medications–some work, some don’t. You’ve had surgeries or injections. Or, maybe you refuse to go down that road and you now begin to wonder if it’s all in your head.

 

Technically it is!  Your pain always has been from the very beginning because pain is created in the brain. But this is good news!

Stick With Me

This is my most information-packed page but there is some really incredible content.

 

  • The Redefinition of Pain in 2020 by the IASP

 

  • Chronic Pain Changes the Brain

 

  • A Brief Overview of the Fascial System

 

  • Part of my Story

 

  • A Few Awesome Testimonials by Clients

The Redefinition of Pain in 2020 by the IASP

For the last century, western medicine was all about taking an image, taking a pill, giving you a shot, cutting it out, or burning it off. It’s not that these things haven’t helped. But for how many did it just make things worse or stay the same?  They didn’t get answers or relief.

 

This happens all the time and I’ve spent the better part of 2 decades in physical therapy working with those who don’t know what’s next. We live in a very “prove it to me” society. Over the last 10 or so years, we have finally had continual improvements in technology to show the world that this isn’t always the best way. Doctors are getting on board. We now have tests and can capture images of physical and emotional pain in the brain.

 

Then something good actually happened in 2020.

 

July 16, 2020, the International Association for the Study of Pain announced a revised definition of pain for the first time since 1979.

 

Pain is defined as:

“An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage,” 

 

It is expanded upon by the addition of six key notes and the etymology of the word pain for further valuable context.

 

1. Pain is always a personal experience that is influenced to varying degrees by biological, psychological, and social factors.  

 

2. Pain and nociception are different phenomena.  Pain cannot be inferred solely from activity in sensory neurons.

 

3. Through their life experiences, individuals learn the concept of pain.

 

4. A person’s report of an experience as pain should be respected. 

 

5. Although pain usually serves an adaptive role, it may have adverse effects on function and social and psychological well-being.

 

6. Verbal description is only one of several behaviors to express pain; inability to communicate does not negate the possibility that a human or nonhuman animal experiences pain. 

 

So you see?  Even the ISAP recognizes that even having the potential fear of pain creates pain in the body!  We are moving in the right direction! 

Northwestern University Credit: Phys.org (http://phys.org/news121498448.html)

Chronic Pain Changes The Brain

The brain/body connection is solid and perfectly designed allowing you to find healing from your physical and emotional pain through your neuroplastic brain!  That’s right, you actually have the ability to rewire your brain!

 

It is also important to understand that when it comes to pain there is also a biopsychosocial component to each person’s pain. There is the biological side of pain as far as what your nervous system and bodily reaction are as well as the psychological side of pain. No one person experiences pain the same as another. There is also the social aspect of pain. This can be anything from, “no one believes I have pain,” to “this pain is my identity and I no longer know who I am without it.”

Pain is created by the brain, 100% of the time.
No exceptions--ever!

Here is another “fun fact”.  When the pain centers of the brain are firing on all cylinders it actually shuts down executive functions in other areas of the brain. Now you know you aren’t going crazy. If you feel like you have a loss of focus or attention or a quick trigger, this is a huge part of why that is happening.

 

One of my favorite teachers on pain in the brain is Adriaan Louw, PT, PhD.  Here is a training he completed for a group of PTs to explain how the body interprets pain. He’s an incredible teacher and you’ll be so glad you found this. Below is a 30-minute video. Fast forward to 4 minutes and 8 seconds to get to the content).

When the pain centers are firing this creates brain fog and makes you cranky. You snap easily and are impatient with those around you or easily agitated by too much noise. This is all a natural reaction due to the brain being so busy trying to process the pain the body is in. We can change this!  Our brains are uniquely created as a neuroplastic organ.

 

Researchers have found that persistent pain actually changes the brain. Persistent pain can cause pain receptors to become sensitive, overactive, and disinhibited, so they become much more easily activated. In short, neuroplasticity is the brain’s capacity to change patterns of energy and information, so we can actually “rewire” your brain creating new pathways!  How cool is that!? The comprehension and understanding of pain are expanding and I’m honored to be a part of this.

Another system to be aware of is a very intricate and amazing system that runs through, quite literally, every fiber of our being.

This is called the fascial system.

A Brief Overview of the Fascial System

It consists of a clear, almost web-like system,  that is filled with smooth muscle tissue.  The properties or “job” of smooth muscle tissue are to contract.  See this study in 2019 if you’d like some deep reading.

That being said, our bodies are hardwired to survive our surroundings.  There are many ways we use our defenses and some of the main components. For example, our senses (sight, sound, smell, touch) are major players that activate things like our Limbic System and Fascial System. The fascial system is one of the best alert systems we have.   

 

Survival looks different than it once did. 

 

We no longer live in a world where we have to scavenge, hunt, and run from threats. But our body is still giving us some of the very same signals we need to anticipate or retreat from “danger”.  The difference is that we don’t recognize the danger in the same way anymore because it’s just part of life so we often ignore the signals.

 

How do you feel after you watch the news or scroll on social media? Stressed, irritated, rise in blood pressure, sick to your stomach? Signals, right? Your body is trying to get you to retreat from the negative or threatening things you are seeing.  Your fascial system can begin to contract when under stress, causing a signal or pain. Headache, stomachache, backache, and the list goes on and on. Remember the fascial system is wound within every fiber of our being. It can affect any part of your body and often does.

 

It’s also important to know that muscle holds memory.  If you have the same reaction to the same situation over and over again, one of the reasons is because that’s what your body remembers to do as it sends you a  signal for protection. Over time, though, we forget how this event even started and now all of a sudden we are doctoring for this horrible back pain or miserable migraines and then the road trip begins. Medications, MRI’s, and so on and so on. Read more on my page about Chronic Pain and Conditions about what happens if we ignore the signals. 

 

I’m certain that if I had not known what I did I would have been in a deep trap myself of injections or surgeries. The daily pain I lived with had my own patients questioning “why don’t you just go in?” as I could barely stand straight to do their treatment. There were many days I would think, “why are you being so stubborn?” I had to keep reminding myself it was all just a signal. No matter how badly I just wanted all of the pain to go away I knew all of the traditional fixes were only band-aids and I also knew their outcomes. I was watching it happen day after day with many in our office. It didn’t fix ALL the issues at hand. I had to make hard changes around me so change inside of my body was possible. There were just so many hurdles!

 

Financially this would be a cost, I had 5 young children to care for, my husband was working rotating shifts, one of our kiddos was requiring a lot of attention which was demanding but also left us with a lot of guilt for the other 4 who weren’t getting enough time. I had some important relationships show their hand in a negative way. I was managing a business with full-time requirements on a part-time basis. I was serving on this committee and that board. Did you catch it? Look at the situation that was going on around me. At one point I even found myself on a treadmill doing a stress test at the doctor’s office after having my first real experience with what I now know was anxiety. 

 

My body was screaming at me sending as many signals as it could saying, “Please stop! Slow down! This is too much!” My world was chaos and stress and my body was trying badly to get my attention. For me, I had to understand that this was a season and when I was ready, I knew where I had to start. But I had to be ready. It took me 6 months of being intentional with the food I put in my body, exercise pushing through debilitating pain, etc. to feel good again.

 

Then COVID happened.

 

I’m home with 5 kids for school and trying to work, and on and on. Life got crazy and I found myself starting all over again 2 years later after the pain returned. Please hear what I am saying.  Medication and procedures were always an option but the pain signals will still push through all of that. These signals don’t necessarily stop because they are only doing what they are designed to do reflexively.  Protect me. I may get one to settle down but it will just present itself in a new way. They will always keep pushing through trying to get my attention.  I had to do the hard things. 

 

A key player the next time around was brainspotting to see how to better manage my life, relationships, and pain. I have gotten there. I had to take a good hard look at the chaos in my life and make changes. I also know that I don’t have the privilege to just stop unless I want to end up in that place again. Many of you don’t either. I also want you to know that sometimes you have to do the mental work first so that you have a place to start

 

Brainspotting will help you identify the signals so that you can clear your head and calm your nervous system then have a place to begin some of the hard changes you may need to do.  
 

So, please hear my story and understand, if you can, give it time. You CAN overcome most pain before jumping to medications or surgery for a fix. I am NOT saying to ignore your injuries, and medication does have a place in many cases. I just don’t want your long-term plan to depend on it always instead of learning your signals. If you’ve already been through a surgery, there is still work that may need to be done.  Even after recovery from an injury or surgery, the signals can still fire because the brain/body wants to do everything it can to prevent that injury or situation from happening again. Sometimes this causes issues of its own like fear or hesitation or avoidance.   

 

I fully understand that taking the step to change daily habits sounds daunting. Let’s be honest. It just is. I know it was for me. For some, THIS is where you start. The power of the mind is amazing and sometimes you just need the tools to understand where to get started. 

 

Remember ALL pain brings an emotion. Fear, anxiety, curiosity, frustration, and the list goes on and on. These emotions can run away with your pain in a quick hurry and actually amplify your pain to a debilitating degree. Those who struggle need no further explanation because this is your world, and you get it.  


So again, why Brainspotting? After a solid education about your pain as the first step to understanding brainspotting gets to the root cause of these emotions through the Limbic System. Through neuroscience education and brainspotting you have the ability to heal this physical and emotional pain no matter how long it’s been going on. This is an incredibly powerful tool when it comes to neuroplasticity (the brain’s capacity to change patterns of energy and information) of the brain, creating new pathways and “updating” the Limbic System. 

 

I am here to help. Reach out so we can visit about how this applies to you.

Here is what a few clients have to say: