Updated: Nov 27, 2022
Chronic pain is a tough thing to deal with. This is the last in the 3-part blog series about this issue. If you missed the previous post, it can be found here.
To briefly summarise what I already wrote in the there: When we have an injury, the sensory signals gathered by the brain from our body (such as skin, vision, hearing, etc) can become confused and provide inaccurate information. If this persists, the brain will treat this information as dangerous to our survival as this data remains inconsitent or garbled. We can even become globally over-sensitised to multiple stimuli in certain scenarios.
What can be done about this?
A number of things, in fact. Some of the most acute instances of chronic pain can be addressed with nervous system or brain rewiring approaches. They follow the premise that the fight, flight or freeze response of the brain has become seriously confused and is in the constant state of alert. The "danger assessment" centres of the brain, also called the limbic system, needs teaching to relax and not over-react again.
The exception to this typical rule is pain coming from nerve damage; and pain coming from tumours pressing on healthy tissues (think, cancer). It is too high a priority for the body to ignore, so pain WILL happen and will not alleviate until successful intervention is sought.
Outside of this scenario, we can deal with chronic pain in several ways.
There are programmes out there that I know of, and they claim great success dealing with not just chronic pain, but conditions like fibromyalgia, chemical and food sensitivities, POTS (postural orthostatic tachychardia syndrome), and other autoimmune conditions. These programmes aim to rewire the brain away from the constant perception of danger towards greater safety, calming down the abnormal whole-body response to normal events in life.
On the other hand, for perhaps less wide-ranging and severe conditions, there are other protocols available - some of these are based on applied neurology.
It is useful to know and appreciate that whilst strong medications are available, these are typically not the way forward and caution must be exercisd for using powerful prescription drugs. Remember that medication masks the issue, but there is no real change underneath in most cases. Plus, it often introduces side-effects for which we might need more medication... a vicious circle.
Meditation, mindfulness, reducing stress levels in life can also go a long way towards decreasing the overall senstivity to pain. It truly brings fantastic benefits as we are effectively rewiring our brain and changing its response pathways.
For many, therapy, especially therapy that addresses the deep-seated issues in the subconscious mind (not talk therapy, as that does not go deep enough) is a real game changer. It’s definitely worth investing time and effort into with a trusted highly qualified person. EMDR is an excellent option to release trauma, another modality is TRE.
If you have not heard about this yet, here is another approach which is definitely worth considering. Somatic Experiencing by Peter Levine is a very gentle but powerful way of reconnecting body and mind and releasing deeply-stored emotions. This can also result in decrease of pain signals in the body.
And on top of that, chronic pain can be quickly, successfully and permantly dealth with via other routes, such as applied neurology - NKT and P-DTR. And this can be accompanied by emotional work too, with a view to calm down the difficult emotional response associated with past events.
Some aberrant signals can be cleared with NeuroKinetic therapy (NKT). NKT deals with over-sensitised and dysfunctional skin stretch receptors. These are present in scars and other injured tissues. I have been using NKT very successfully for years and it is a very powerful tool.
However, unfortunately, not all receptor dysfunctions can be addresed by NKT alone.
And this is why I am looking to study an advanced modality called P-DTR (Proprioceptive Deep Tendon Reflex) which looks at many other receptors in the human body which can result in us getting stuck in a wrongfully generated danger response - and remain in chronic pain for no good reason.
The over-sensitivity can be to anything from pressure to skin, a past memory of pain, or even sound or light! At some stage during the injury or accident, or even a significant event, these would have been threatening to our body - but should not be anymore. When we are stuck in a pattern of reacting to these, the body gets too busy fighting an imaginary enemy. Affecting the way it works - making is less optimal.
This response is habitual and subconscious until it is dealt with.
To give you an example - let's say someone broke their collarbone. There was a sharp pain in the collarbone at the time of the injury and for some time since. Eventually the collarbone healed. However, an overactive pain receptor in the collarbone on the site of the break may well remain.
Every time something touches that pain receptor, the brain noticed that there is an adverse event associated with that place in the past, registers a neurological fault, and responds in a certain way. Often that response is to inhibit local muscles as a way of protecting the injury site, but likewise it can give us, for example, a low-grade sense of stress and unease we can't quite fathom.
Once established in that stuck dysfunctinal cycle, this response stays with us forever, until it is deal with. It is subconscious and most often we have no idea we suffer from it.
To give you another example - ankle sprains cause tons of dysfunctions that can last a lifetime and create significant compensations up the body. They have no expiration date either.
P-DTR uncovers these patterns and quickly restores normal neurological state of the body's responses, leading to elimination of pain, tension, or other compensations such as stress, normalising our body's signalling in and out of the brain. It removes the "neurological noise" that we might have suffered from, getting us more brain capacity to deal with day-to-day life. And this restores our muscle tone to a normal state - with no need for stretches or exercises (yes, however we can and should still build strength on top of that).
So - there are tons of choices available! And there is so much that can be done - we do not need to suffer in silence.
If you would like to find out more, please reach out to me via FB Messenger, email or over the phone.
To your health,