Pain speculation

To be very clear, what I’m sharing in this post is speculation based on personal experience. I can’t point anyone at any evidence that backs it up. I’ll start with what we do know – that there does seem to be a relationship between inflammation based pain, and trauma history. People with fibromyalgia seem to be more likely than not to have trauma history. There is growing evidence that what happens around trauma doesn’t just impact on your mind and feelings and that there can be bodily consequences – hardly a wild though, it is all the same system after all.

One of the psychological consequences of trauma, can be hyper-vigilance. You’re always looking for threats, you can’t relax. Busy spaces, people behind you, noise, unexpected touch or sounds – all of these things can cause panic and ptsd responses for some people. But of late I’ve been wondering whether that really is a purely psychological issue.

I carry a lot of tension in my body, and this contributes to experiencing pain and stiffness. Anxiety and stress in the body manifest as fight/flight/freeze/appease responses – that’s been established. So, we might fairly assume there is some kind of process that precedes fight, flight etc. Normal people do not spend all of their time poised to run away, and get to be happier and healthier as a consequence. Cortisol and adrenaline are part of this mix, for sure. What if being on alert all the time is a bodily process? What if hyper-vigilance is something that happens not just in my head, but in my tissues? Could that be why I spend so much time sore and in pain?

If that’s so, then the next question is, how do I persuade my body to stand down? How do I persuade my body that I am safe enough now, and that I do not have to be poised to run away or ready to freeze and disassociate? How do I teach my body to feel safe? I shall be exploring this and will come back if I make any progress.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

18 responses to “Pain speculation

  • Helen Bell

    Makes a lot of sense. If you find any answers please share:)

  • Sheila Murrey

    I would certainly love to explore EFT (Tapping) with you, if you are open to it. Or there’s yoga / qigong. Slow and easy does it movement. ❤️🦋🌀

    • Nimue Brown

      Tapping makes me uneasy, not sure why. Yoga isn’t safe at my level of hypermobility, and currently I’ve got one arm too frozen for Tai Chi, which is deeply frustrating.

      • Sheila Murrey

        Maybe just go it super slow…? I recently restarted my yoga practice with 5 minute sessions. I also have a near frozen shoulder, and use a Yamuna ball for it, to increase its mobility (tiny bit at a time), but it helps it feel better. Anything you can do, is of benefit. A friend told me a few years ago, that any movement can be YOUR YOGA, and as I let those words sink into me, I chose to move a bit from my sedentary life. Yes, MY YOGA is MY UNION with Spirit and Breath (no one else’s).
        I wish you much health. ❤️🦋🌀

      • Yvonne Aburrow

        Re: frozen shoulder — me too, and I’m currently getting it treated by an osteopath (cheaper in Canada then in the UK, and covered by the health insurance package that comes with my job). I know it’s not covered by the NHS, but if you can find a reasonably priced osteopath, it’s well worth it.

  • Jordan Hoggard

    Yes, After decades of martial arts and always under deadline in my architectural firm and doing Tarot and Astrology readings… go go go =, my massage therapist 15 years ago said, “You’re body is like an unrelated Sentry. Half-there to always being on the ready to engage.Can you allow yourself to relax? Just the realization popped some docking clamps, and then through 3+ years of Brainspotting… now, I have an awareness when my body is trying to lock down so to speak and be on the ready… instead, I breathe into it and turn the tide to confident relaxation where fear is an awareness tool, and the anxiety born of trauma is not allowed to kidnap fear and distort it into being afraid. Sometimes, the traumas just need some breathing room for the 1st time since the trauma. Some times more direct attention Or even simply turning them loose to do their thing (sometimes terrifying, though they need to, and I need to become besties with my beasties).

    “We live what we love out.” ~ C.G. Jung. That indicates to me that when we do not open up to engage our fears, they will certainly engage us, though they tend to dart our bodies like a Zookeeper so that we slowly bleed off energy from being half-flexed. It’s subtle, though I notice now when to notice that, “Un uh. Nope. Pull that poison arrow out. Wanna come up and engage. I don’t bite. Understood that you might/do. What do you need me to deeply know?” And, then any words are all their own as I whole-body listen as I do not hold the space, I allow them to fill the space of the place between us so I can feel how they relate. I fully engage, though do not contribute to them other than to listen.

    … As a long-form thought from my experience. Important not to put oneself in danger, though I feel we are each vastly more powerful than any of us knows. And, that does not come all of a sudden sitting on the couch. For the runner’s high, 22 miles or so hoofing it is the cover charge, and that’s only scratching the surface of the tip of the iceberg from my perspective.

    Thoughts? Feelings?

  • Jordan Hoggard

    Uh hem… autocorrect. “We live what we leave out.” C.G. Jung = unaddressed inner contents left unengaged… they’ll find a way Out here to us, and very much more nasty than if we find a way to them.

  • Readerbythesea

    I’ve learnt that pain is controlled by ‘gateways’ which are nerve pathway Junction points, when the physical damage has healed sometimes these gateways remain activated sending messages of pain to the brain. I’ve found acupuncture helped immensely with ‘deactivating’ them.

  • Yvonne Aburrow

    I definitely think that trauma is carried in the body in the way you describe. And there’s good biological evidence that it can be transmitted epigenetically; studies of Indigenous people whose recent ancestors have suffered from residential school trauma, and of Jewish people whose recent ancestors suffered in the Holocaust, have shown evidence of epigenetic transmission of trauma. Indigenous people have a higher incidence of diabetes due to both the starvation inflicted by residential schools and current food insecurity.

    So if it can be transmitted to the next generation, it can definitely be held in the body by the person who suffered the trauma.

  • Yvonne Aburrow

    Oh and also I developed bruxism (grinding my teeth in my sleep) as a result of Brexit and now I have it because of the climate emergency.

  • Yvonne Aburrow

    Re: frozen shoulder. My osteopath says that it is caused by insufficient movement of the scapula (shoulder blade). I asked if I should stop using my mouse with that hand, and he said yes.

    I think that moving your arm and exercising your shoulder blade in ways that don’t aggravate the pain may be helpful too.

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