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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jessica Bacon

Chronic Back Pain & The Mind-Body Connection

chronic back pain, alternative back pain treatments, alternative back pain therapy, holistic back pain healing, functional medicine
Back Pain and the Mind-Body Connection

Back Pain. As a physician, it was one of the most common complaints I heard in my practice. Treating it, like most medical conditions, is part science and part art. Back pain usually has an event connected that caused the symptoms to begin. When it doesn’t, you search through the series of recent activities and figure out what you remember doing just before the pain started. One of the first steps after getting the details of how it happened is to determine if you have symptoms that need surgical intervention or immobilization like herniated discs, certain types of pinched nerves or broken bones. If you avoid that category you’re left with inflammation, strains and sprains involving muscles, tendons, ligaments or nerves. These things calm down and heal over time. In the process, physical therapy, exercise programs, ultrasound, TENS units, supplements, medications and other modalities are used to make sure the process goes smoothly and you get the best outcome. There are a huge number of treatment options. Each one has its own benefits and works better for some people in certain cases.

Once enough time has passed, inflammation calms down, sprains and strains heal and other injured tissues repair themselves. The body is amazing in its ability to heal and repair itself. Why then, do some people end up having chronic pain symptoms beyond the time needed for the original tissue injuries to heal? The answer to this question is found in the mind-body connection.

The mind-body connection explains how the thoughts and feelings you have affect your body. Thoughts and feelings create information that sets off chemical signals that control your body. These signals tell your body in precise detail what to do and how to do it. Look at the back pain example that was mentioned earlier. When your back pain got injured you had feelings of pain and the inability to move normally. Those particular feelings and symptoms led you to the idea that something was wrong with your back. Depending on the feelings, you might have tried some over the counter medications or at home treatments to alleviate the pain. If the feelings of pain went away and stayed gone, you believed that your back pain was fixed. If the feelings of pain persisted, you went to the doctor for a professional opinion and help getting the pain to stop.

The pain is connected to the idea that your back is not fixed. Skip past the medical treatments in this example idea to the point you have taken care of all the medical and surgical possibilities but still have back pain. Why are you still getting a pain signal? Why are you not feeling fixed and pain free if all the physical causes have been addressed? The mind part of the mind body connection is still stuck. Either the emotion surrounding the back injury was very intense causing a stuck repeating loop of information making your body feel like there is pain from the injury even when the tissues have healed. Or, the pain has become a pattern and is expected to show up every time you make a particular movement. Anticipating pain sets off certain signals in your body creating stress and trying to protect you from it. These feelings connect back to the idea of your body being injured and all of the previous symptoms that you were experiencing. The information signals flood in saying this is reality, this is your situation and this is how you deal with it. That pattern that got brought up demonstrates the mind-body connection.

How do you change the mind-body connection? The first thing you do is understand how it works. Knowing how thoughts and feelings connect to send information to your body and make it feel like a certain thought is really happening gives you the power to change it. After that, it’s a matter of awareness and creating new thought and feeling patterns. Changing the thoughts and feelings you have connected with the movement or activity you expect sends different information signals to the body. This allows different thoughts and feelings to be connected to the movement or activity and gives you a new outcome.

The mind-body connection is an important part of treating chronic back pain and any other condition or symptoms. If you’ve been working on treating chronic back pain and haven’t addressed this component, consider checking in to it. It might just be the missing piece you’ve been searching for.

Related Course: Mind-Body Back Pain Reset Program. This online course guides you though the mind-body connection of chronic back pain and tool to reprogram that connection.

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