If you’re suffering from chronic pain, there may be a strong emotional component to your inability to overcome the lasting effects. In fact, there is increasing evidence that your feelings may be the cause of your pain; that your emotions and pain are related.
“Studies have shown that chronic pain might not only be caused by physical injury but also by stress and emotional issues. In particular, people who have experienced trauma and suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are often at a higher risk to develop chronic pain.” (PsychologyToday.com)
A Connection Between Emotions and Pain
In an article titled, “The Connections Between Emotional Stress, Trauma and Physical Pain”, Dr. Susanne Babbel, PhD, MFT, makes the claim that, “Often, physical pain functions to warn a person that there is still emotional work to be done.”
The idea that your feelings can have a direct effect on your physical wellness is startling, yet the evidence of such a connection continues to grow stronger. While it has long been known that your body’s natural stress response can have a significant impact on your immune function, brain chemistry, blood sugar levels, hormonal balance, the notion that it can also lead to chronic pain is fairly recent.
In a recent experiment to map emotions, researchers asked volunteers to think about one of 14 predetermined emotions, and then paint the areas of a blank silhouette that felt stimulated by that particular emotion. The experiment shows that emotions do tend to be felt in your body in ways that are generally consistent from one person to the next, regardless of age, sex, or nationality.
Below is a “body map”, showing areas where subjects reported feeling various emotions. (Mercola.com)
Mind-Body Healing for Pain
Responding to this type of information, holistic practitioners and integrative medicine specialists have developed mind-body therapies that take this interrelatedness between your emotions and physical health into account.
Known as “mind-body healing”, practitioners use techniques that are designed to enhance the mind’s positive impact on the body. These techniques practices include behavioral, psychological, social, expressive, and spiritual approaches.
In a later post, we’ll address more fully the techniques used for mind-body healing. For now, it’s enough to know that emotions and pain are strongly related, and that your emotional health has a direct impact on your physical health.