Pain is Part of the Limbic System
You know how it seems like every time you get sick or hurt, the more your body aches, the worse your mood gets? As if the physical pain isn’t enough, you feel mentally foggy or “out of it” and just
bad in general. Unfortunately that’s normal. (Have you ever seen someone in a crazy amount of pain but they’re smiling and laughing hysterically? If you have, they are probably either medicated or need to be medicated.)
The relationship between how we feel physically and how we feel emotionally is a complex one. We are all well aware of our ability to carry our stress in our neck, shoulders and back, resulting in a dire need for massage and chiropractic treatment. Pain can also cause a huge amount of stress, creating tension in the body that results in more intense pain. Take a look at some of the other ways pain affects us.
People who suffer from chronic pain are also often diagnosed with some type of depression. For example, if one has severe back pain, migraine headaches, fibromyalgia or arthritis he or she probably also has bipolar disorder, anxiety, insomnia or general depression. These conditions can, in turn, make the pain worse. Pain plus depression can result in some of the lowest quality-of-life levels reported by people with major illness.
Loss of Identity
Dealing with pain on a daily basis puts huge restrictions on what we are able to do in and with our lives. We also often lose the ability to participate in our favorite hobbies, which creates a sense of loss and hopelessness. Whether one’s life passion is dancing or painting, chronic pain can put a damper on even the simplest activities. When we can’t do the things we love to do, we get that hole-in-the-heart feeling of incompleteness.
Matters of the Heart
Chronic pain means not being able to fully commit to plans in advance and knowing that at the last minute we might have to cancel. This puts stress on many friendships and romantic relationships because other people involved take it personally or misinterpret our behavior as being “flaky”. As a result relationships are difficult to maintain and lead to isolation and feeling alone.
Finding Answers When It Seems There Are None
Chronic pain cannot be treated with traditional therapies. Bed rest and aspirin just aren’t going to cut it, although there are plenty of days, weeks or even months when it feels like that’s all we are capable of. Getting a grip on chronic pain often feels like a fantasy that can only be dreamed of – never acquired. By utilizing multiple therapies, however, people are regaining control of their bodies, minds, and lives.
Chiropractic care is a good place to start in order to reset the nervous system. After years and years of hurting, our bodies get so used to the pain and accept it that our nervous systems actually function differently due to nerve damage. We have to retrain our bodies to recognize the difference between normal and harmful sensations.
Antidepressants have also been beneficial for chronic pain sufferers by interrupting the pain/depression cycle. Once the two things are no longer feeding off each other, the pain can be more accurately addressed. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can also be very useful in learning how to deal with pain and its effects on one’s life. Finding a good psychiatrist and psychologist who specialize in pain management can work together to customize a plan that works for each of us and our unique lifestyles.