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Chronic Pain and Emotional Trauma - What's the Link?

Chronic pain often effects people on several levels. For many sufferers, there is a pronounced mental and emotional element that is interwoven into how they experience persistent, physical pain.

As a drug-free medical approach to treating physical conditions, osteopathic manipulative therapy (OMT) uses mobilisation procedures, massage and manipulation to treat conditions related to pain.

However, what it also can do, is help address those underlying psychological issues that are also present in some sufferers.

There may be a degree of emotional trauma arising from chronic pain or indeed fuelling it, which OMT can help with in the process of treating the physical aspects.

The Body-mind Connection

It is well-documented that emotional stress can lead to physical symptoms, such as headaches or an upset stomach.

It can, however, go further than this, and lead to chronic pain. There is a reason for this, which is that when people become stressed or anxious their muscles get tenser and, over time, work less efficiently and become fatigued.

Similarly, unresolved emotional issues can cause stress, which then can result in physical symptoms.

In other words, there is a strong mind-body relationship and a consequent link in mental and physical pain.

Psychology Today quotes figures that suggest between 15% and 30% of people suffering chronic pain may also be suffering some form of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

When trauma happens, this can have an impact on how pain develops.

If the nervous system goes into survival mode during a traumatic event, it may become stuck this way, leaving the body in a state of constant distress.

Physical pain can itself be a signal that there are unresolved emotional problems and trauma.

This also works in reverse: chronic pain can cause emotional and mental reactions. This psychological aspect can be integral to how the individual experiences chronic pain.

In fact, in some scenarios a kind of vicious circle develops, where the physical and psychological sides to trauma feed off one another.

Trauma and Impact

Trauma may or may not be connected with where specific instances of chronic pain have come from, but nevertheless the pain itself can cause trauma.

It is interconnected with physical pain, as a product of it, but also as something that can intensify its impact.

For this reason, there may be times where a combined approach of both psychotherapy and physical therapy works best.

However, there is also strong evidence to suggest that on its own, osteopathy can do much to address emotional as well as physical trauma.

How Osteopathy Works on Emotional Trauma

OMT has been proven to be effective for various types of musculoskeletal pain, including chronic pain affecting the neck. It also can work for acute, subacute and chronic lower back pain.

It is also about improving quality of life.

Closely associated with this is how people feel. OMT can have a psychological as well as physical impact.

At Swansea University’s Health and Wellbeing Academy, therapists have asked patients to fill in mental health questionnaires periodically following OMT treatment.

The data shows osteopathy being effective in reducing anxiety and psychological stress, as well as addressing the physical symptoms of chronic pain.

The body can be clinging to unresolved issues and physical therapy can be a significant part of the solution.

Are You Suffering from Chronic Pain?

If you have problems with pain, please contact me for a consultation. Osteopathy has the power to get to the root of many symptoms of pain and discomfort.


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