Thursday, September 3, 2009

Chronic Pain


(part 1 of a two-part series)
My research has shown that certain types of chronic pain in adults can be traced back to traumatic events in the patient’s childhood. It is my belief that these traumas cause certain muscles to tighten, and at times remain in this state of chronic tension causing other muscle and skeletal imbalances which result in chronic pain.
My first clue that traumatic emotional events in childhood can be the root cause of chronic pain in adults came when a 21-year-old client visited my office. She complained of a stabbing pain that started under her ribs and radiated to her midback region. She also reported burning pain under her ribs that was aggravated by eating and stress.
At the time of her visit to my office she was desperate. She had already seen two medical doctors. One suggested she had ulcers. The other thought it might be her gall bladder. However, all tests for these diagnoses were negative and her pain continued.
I asked the patient when her symptoms first appeared. She said she first experienced severe stomach pain at age 5 years. I discovered that this first experience of severe stomach pain occurred when her father was tragically killed in a car accident. She reported that her family acted strangely around her, not wanting to tell her what happened to her father.
When she figured out something bad had happened to him, she felt pain in her stomach.
Wilhelm Reich and Dr. Alexander Lowen, M.D., had developed a theory of muscle tension related to emotional disturbance. Lowen believed the physical body mirrors human character and dramatizes emotional disorders.
Dr. Joseph Janse, D.C. theorized in 1976 that spinal adjustments might cause relaxation responses in patients and release emotional disturbances.
My patient reported her stomach pain got worse over the years. I theorized that the traumatic loss of her father caused her stomach to go into spasm at the age of five.
The unexpressed rage she harbored towards her step-mother had maintained and aggravated this tension.
At some point this spasm had become self-sustaining and chronic. Based on this information I diagnosed Hiatal Hernia Syndrome. Using gentle chiropractic techniques I made adjustments on her stomach spasm.
After seven visits this patient was pain free. Subsequent follow-ups over the next six years revealed that while she occasionally gets some stomach pain she can now relax herself and the pain subsides immediately. (Next time our series continues with the story of Y.A., a victim of child abuse since the age of five.)