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Back and Neck Pain
Change For Good,® Inc.
As a Clinical Hypnotherapist, I can tell you that when it comes to physical pain in the body, there is no pain which is more clearly connected to stress (besides maybe headaches) than back and neck pain. In my own research I estimate that 95% of the patients I see that suffer from back pain have suffered needlessly for years due to repressed and unresolved internal conflict.
In every single first time session, I will place the patient in a deep hypnotic trance and ask them to sense places in their body where they house stress, tension or the memory of stress and tension. The second I ask them to do this, they immediately begin to feel the tension. It is interesting that where they first sense it is not perhaps where they ultimately will feel it most. For example, during this portion of the session, I will ask them to turn up an imaginary dial from one to 10, sensing the tension they are used to feeling. As they progress upward, each number will intensify the feeling. It will move from their stomach to their chest, then to their head or to their back. Each person is different, however, the interesting thing that happens is that the pain is so real to them that they sometimes wince, become short of breath and begin to squirm in their chair. As the thought of pain increases, so does the pain. It becomes so incredibly painful in some cases that they ask me to stop.
The reason I perform this procedure is to demonstrate to them that pain is controlled by their mind. When we get to the very top, the number 10, I ask them to transfer the pain and tension out of their body. They do so within a minute or two and the pain is completely gone.
The Culprit – Memory
I believe two important things are going on with the patient who is suffering from chronic back and neck pain. The memory the pain is linked to (i.e., repressed emotion trapped in the subconscious mind) and the memory in the cells themselves. First, let’s talk about the first part, the memory that the pain is linked to.
There are most certainly, in all of these cases, a first time for the pain. It is interesting that in hypnosis, while they are feeling extreme back pain, if you go back in time to the first time they ever felt that way, they never go back to the point of injury. They always go back to some event that makes them feel a certain way. An example is one client of mine who suffered from years of debilitating back pain, who had been diagnosed having an enlarged disk as a result of a work-related injury. When asked to go back in time, he found himself in a heated debate with his deceased father when the client was 14 years old. His father had just beaten the child’s mother and he was challenging his dad. Ultimately, the child backed down and the father punished the child for his behavior. Later in life, as an adult, the patient was in a work environment with a boss that was very much like his dad. After several stressful months of working in this condition, the man picked up a box and heard a “pop” as he described it. From that point on, the man suffered from back pain, which was attributed to this “injury.” He was relieved from work and it became the central focal point of his life. So, his “pain in the back” was triggered by some action, but in reality centered from his stress as it related to repressed anger and emotions concerning his father.
Did something happen to his back at work. Yes, perhaps, but the more important question is why? With some further investigation, you would learn from this man that he always felt stress in his back, but nothing had ever “happened,” referring to the injury. This condition is referred to by an increasing number of health professionals as Tension Myositis Syndrome (also known as TMS).
First diagnosed by Dr. John Sarno M.D., TMS works like this:
1. Repressed emotion retained in the subconscious mind creates a general feeling in the conscious mind of stress.
2. Daily stress triggers a physical reaction known as tension.
3. A place in the body acts as a sort of “lighting rod,” in this case the back.
4. As the tension increases, the muscles begin to spasm, a tightening similar to a cramp or a “charlie horse.”
5. Blood is cut off in this area. In some cases it cases, numbness or tingling in arms or legs are felt.
6. Without blood, oxygen is cut off and toxins are dropped into the tissue.
7. Natural pain killers (endorphins) are cut off, as there is little flow of any kind in this area.
8. The more the patient thinks about the pain, contrary to their conscious desire, they pain the feel.
Note: Often, pressing on the area or rubbing it will temporarily relieve the pain. This is because blood and oxygen is being worked back into the area. Like a cramp, it needs oxygen-rich blood to make the pain go away. Unfortunately this is only a temporary fix, as the thought process continues to feed the pain.
This sets the stage for continuous intense pain. This is a very real condition and the fact that it has been brought on by thought does not take away the very real sense of pain. The patient might be so pained that they cannot even walk, sit or stand. Nor should it be construed that it is being suggested that they “want” to feel pain or are in some way looking for attention. These are subconscious thoughts that the patient usually is unaware of. Further, although they do agree that stress makes their back worse, they have never considered stress to be the very reason why their back pains.
The second fundamental part of the pain cycle is cell memory. After pain has been continuously feed into the neurology of the body, in a fashion, it etches a pathway to the brain. Over time, simply thinking about back pain can set off a chain reaction. This is because each cell has the ability to reproduce the memory of stress and the memory of pain with precision accuracy.
Breaking The Cycle
The first thing you need to do in order to rid your body of back and neck pain caused by TMS is to realize you have control. Admit that you have given up control of your body and it is time to take it back.
Six Steps to Controlling Back and Neck Pan:
1. Learn How to Sleep: Not just lying down and tossing and turning all night, but Real, restful, peaceful, restoring sleep. Now you may say, “I can’t sleep, I am in pain.” In many cases the lack of sleep and proper rest is the very reason why they have given into sleep (I don’t understand – to me, having “given into sleep” means that you fall asleep). For more information on sleep click here. There are natural herbal remedies for sleep, however, spend time learning how to put yourself into deep sleep. It can be learned using self-help audio programs or by self-hypnosis, but it is vital for controlling and eliminating pain.
2. Learn How to Relax: We are not talking about sitting in front of a TV and watching sitcoms. Learn how to close your eyes and quietly go within and release stress and tension. This is another essential part of the equation. Do not overlook this and do not confuse relaxing with sleep. These are two completely different animals. The cases of people grinding their teeth or reacting in some stressful way during sleep are too numerous to mention. Sleep can be relaxing, but it is not the kind of relaxing we are talking about here. Again, there are self-healing tapes available or you can just listen to gentle music or the sounds of nature while you visualize peaceful settings. There are other disciplines such as tai chi or mediation, yoga or just laying still using self-hypnosis. But you need to learn something if you are going to beat the pain cycle.
3. Learn How to Exercise: Many will say, “I cannot exercise – I am in pain!” While this may be true in some cases, most of the time it is just an excuse. Obviously don’t exercise if you are going to hurt yourself, however, there are times when you are not in pain and there are things you can more than likely do that are not painful to your injury or condition. The kind of exercise that works best is an aerobic type of exercise. Daily, if possible, but at least three to four times per week, for at least 15 to 25 minutes. First, you will feel better about yourself. Secondly, it releases endorphins into the body and allows your overall energy to be more fluid. When your body is regulated properly, you just feel better.
4. Eat Right: Stop running your body into the ground with fast food and empty calories. See your doctor or nutritionist. Again, eating the right nutrients, getting your body to feel better, starts with an overall attitude toward the way you treat your body. If you are mad at your body and feed it improperly, it will certainly backfire. If you are overweight, start a reducing plan and make sure it is realistic. If you are underweight, the same thing holds true. Makes sure you are giving yourself high-test, energy-rich food. Remember, this is all about energy.
5. Do Your Inner Work: It is not a coincidence that most people who go to some form of counseling or therapy also suffer from some sort of physical pain. Pain in the back, neck or chest, stomach ailments, irritable bowels, spastic colon or headaches are just a few of the physical manifestations of stress brought on by continuous and repeated negative thoughts. Start reading, attending healing seminars, go to therapy, learn how to meditate – begin a healing process immediately. Learn how to let go of the past and the control it has over you. Sometimes physical pain is the body’s way of reaching out for unresolved and repressed conflict. Don’t ignore your body’s natural warning signs.
6. Stop Complaining: Take a survey of the friends, family and people around you. Ask them how often you discuss your pain. You are very aware of how it feels to have pain. Without knowing it, you may be broadcasting your pain to those around you for attention and sympathy. Keep in mind that it is quite often the case that people around you will treat you differently because they expect you to be in pain. Those expectations feed the pain cycle. Learn how to dismiss pain. Focus on what it likes to feel good, not on how bad it feels to be in pain. We talk to ourselves at more than 10,000 words per minute. So watch that self-talk – you might be your own worst enemy. Even when you are not 100%, next time someone says how are you? Reply, “Great!” Even if it is not entirely true, convince them you are doing better. When you do this, you send a strong message to your own subconscious mind.
7. Keep Your Focus: Keep the long view in mind. Start a campaign of mental images in your mind that show you pain-free. Focus on being pain-free. Remember times when you were without pain. Focus on them and picture yourself like that again. Meditate, pray, visualize – anything that puts you into a relaxed state. Learn how to retrain your mind to focus on the positive, the pain-free state that you desire and need.
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