The Mind/Body Connection

Gentle Pain Release® Center’s innovative and individualized treatments are physiologically sound, safe, and most importantly, they work.

You have heard the saying, “It’s all in your head!”, which implies that your pain is not real, just imagined. The truth is that our pain signals are received from our bodies and interpreted by the brain as to where something hurts, how much and the quality of that pain: aching, throbbing, sharpness, etc. All pain is real and the fact that our head, our brain, is a big part of the pain mechanism is good news. Here’s what I mean.

The body’s reflex reaction to pain is to tighten. It is a protective mechanism. However, that tightening, prolonged over time, becomes muscle spasms — which perpetuate the original pain and produce their own pain on top of the original pain. This mechanism is often called muscle guarding.

The opposite of muscle guarding is relaxation and it is hard to do when one is hurting. We also live in a very stressful world which promotes staying busy all the time, being productive at all times. Relaxation is almost looked at as being lazy. Learning to relax changes our body chemistry, as well as relaxing the tight and painful muscles. Relaxing helps to reduce our pain quite effectively.

I have had patients that were hurting too much to be touched, or too fearful for me to touch them. I had them position as comfortably as possible and coached them in relaxation. I have seen patients’ pain levels go from an eight on a zero to ten scale, to a two (which is a very low pain level) with twenty minutes of relaxation instruction. That is more effective than many powerful pain medications.

Relaxation requires practice. A time of high pain is not the best time to try to learn this skill. It takes daily practice. Your therapist here can instruct you in simple, effective relaxation techniques and help you master this skill. We can indeed learn to use our heads, i.e. our brains, to relax and thus to help control our pain!

— Richard Fowler


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