The Mind-Body Connection and Chronic Pain
Many people have the incredibly misguided idea that people with chronic pain are malingerers, or that the pain can’t possibly be “that bad,” or that the physical pain is a manifestation of some sort of emotional issue that has not been dealt with. This is especially true for people who have been diagnosed with so-called invisible illnesses, like Fibromyalgia, CRPS, etc. I have the screws in my back to “prove my pain,” but it only gives an answer for my back pain, not my other symptoms.
I have often wondered if maybe the pain was a result of my constant thinking about being in pain. Was thinking, talking and writing about pain drawing my attention to it? Am I thinking myself sick? If I ignored my body would my pain go away? Lots of people comment in such a way that sometimes make me feel as if I really am “talking myself into” pain (you will have to pardon all the “quotations” but I am using a lot of generalizations today).
Well, the past few weeks have proven to me that despite not thinking about the pain, it is still there. It has also proven to me that stress and emotional upheaval will not only double, but triple or quadruple pain levels at times. Last month my husband and I separated. I have spent the past three weeks dealing with worries and emotions that I NEVER thought I would have to deal with- from heartache, to finances and medical bills (especially from the recent car accident and hospital stay), to how get through surgeries and chronic illness/disability without the help of a partner.
I have been in my head, thinking, worrying, brooding, etc. with little attention paid to my body, with the exception of the physical therapy I have been doing, without fail. Even during physical therapy, when I feel I am pushing myself harder than normal just to let out the stress I am dealing with, I am barely present enough to pay attention to my body…however, the pain is still there.
The bottom line is I haven’t been thinking about my back, or my pain, and yet, there it is. The pain has been worse due to stress, at times waking up completely unable to move my legs due to the nerve pain in my hips that literally lock up my legs until I can SLOWLY move myself into a new position, and finally get out of bed. With everything that has been going on, I realized yesterday morning, that I have not been paying attention to my health very much, nor have I been “chronicling” my pain on a daily basis, but that has not made a difference in the pain levels.
Additionally, the stress/pain connection that is always being mentioned has proven absolutely true because not only does stress lead to fibromyalgia flares, but it also greatly intensifies chronic pain. Consider me your guinea pig to prove that, yes, pain is real…as if those of us reading this blog didn’t already know that. If you live with chronic pain, don’t let anyone tell you that what you feel is “all in your head.”
Check out more about Fibromyalgia Pain Points and Flares at http://ohwhatapain.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/understanding-fibromyalgia-pain-points-guest-post/
Rydzy MSW, T. (2013). The Mind-Body Connection and Chronic Pain. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 18, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/chronic-pain/2013/07/the-mind-body-connection-and-chronic-pain/