“It hurts! Make it stop!” Every moment of every day your body cries out. It’s telling you that something is terribly wrong and needs to be fixed. EMDR for chronic pain might be just the relief you are looking for.
The way that your body cries this out is through chronic pain.
Depending on your circumstance, that message is sent out through various parts of your body. For some, it’s their lower back that is in constant pain. For others, it’s in the knuckles of their hands. Sometimes, it’s in connection with a bad knee or an arthritic hip. Other times, the pain might be from an old shoulder injury or related to aging.
However, you experience it, you want and need urgent relief. One possible solution might be EMDR for chronic pain management.
The Origins of Chronic Pain
Constant pain can originate from various sources. Consider two:
Physical Injuries: As we get older it’s not uncommon to sustain a physical injury, such as through work, an athletic injury, or due to an accident. In fact, for our ancestors, injury was the leading cause of death.
Emotional Injuries: Believe it or not, chronic pain can be traced back to when you experienced an emotional injury as well. Trauma is usually the reason why this occurs. For instance, if you had a traumatic childhood with abusive parents, that experience leaves an impression.
Whatever the origin of your chronic pain, left unaddressed physical or emotional injuries can cause real problems later in life.
Emotional Trauma, Your DNA, and Chronic Pain
The science behind how emotional trauma can affect the very building blocks of who you are is both fascinating and informative.
When you experience a traumatic event, your brain tells the nervous system in your body to release adrenaline. This is a natural response to stress that the human body has developed over thousands of years. Adrenaline helps you to be more alert to respond to threats.
However, adrenaline also causes a chain reaction in the mitochondria (a specialized structure in your cells) to release reactive oxygen species molecules. These include hydroxyl radicals that can actually split apart DNA.
Over years of exposure to trauma, your body begins to cry out as pain manifests itself in certain areas of your body. Even if you have never had a physical injury in that area. And it’s no wonder! Your body can only take so much destruction at the cellular level before the effects begin to appear.
In fact, people who have been exposed to repeated trauma when young may even have shorter lifespans. Or they develop medical problems, including cancer.
Of course, you can’t change what happened in the past. However, there is something that you can do now to stop this downward progression.
Why EMDR Works and Can Provide Relief
Traumatic memories often manifest themselves through chronic pain. If those memories no longer cause you to feel upset, then that can actually help to resolve your pain as well.
This is where eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) comes in. It can be very effective in managing chronic pain because it addresses and treats traumatic memories. With the help of a trained therapist, you first focus on a target memory and the feelings, thoughts, and emotions that are related to the incident. This could even be the chronic pain itself, not just a memory of a traumatic event. Then, your therapist will use a technique to stimulate bilateral eye movement. During this phase, your brain reprocesses your memory.
Over time, this practice helps your brain to store the memory differently. It stores it in a way that you no longer feel distressed when recalling it because the emotions are no longer attached. And that also translates into a decrease in pain.
EMDR for chronic pain offers hope for those whose body cries out in anguish. It’s not just effective pain management, rather, EMDR helps to resolve memories and allows your body to heal from that emotional trauma. If you would like to know more about EMDR therapy and chronic pain management, please contact me.