A number of our clients come to The Center with chronic pain that has persisted for years. This is often referred to as Fibromyalgia. The client has tried pain medications, diets, stretching, physical therapy, massages, and more. Nothing has seemed to work.
But after we begin treatment using the whole person approach, frequently there is notable improvement with the chronic pain. How could that be?
The Trauma-PTSD and Pain-Fibromyalgia Connection
Experiencing trauma is not rare. About 70% of men and 60% of women will experience a major traumatic event in their lives. Men are more likely to experience accidents, physical assault, combat, or witness death or injury. Women are more likely to experience emotional abuse, sexual assault or sexual abuse as a child.
PTSD can happen to anyone, and it is not a sign of weakness. It can lay dormant for years, surfacing as an adult. Or it can begin shortly after a significant trauma has occurred.
Research is showing that as many as 50% of individuals with trauma and PTSD experience the mysterious painful systems of Fibromyalgia. This is consistent for men and women. That compares with only about 5% of individuals with severe depression.
“A consistent relationship has been seen between PTSD and chronic pain conditions like Fibromyalgia,” says psychologist John D. Otis, PhD, at Boston University.
While the cause of Fibromyalgia remains unknown, the condition often occurs following physical trauma – such as an illness or injury – which may act as a trigger. What we are also now discovering, is that when non-physical trauma is severe enough, i.e., from witnessing horrific combat violence, or repeated emotional abuse as a child, Fibromyalgia symptoms can also manifest.
Whole Person Treatment Produces Positive Results
Without an ability to resolve trauma or PTSD, the conflict can well up inside an individual. The result can be persistent pain from walking, sitting, standing, severe neck and shoulder discomfort, in joints, and more. And while not wrenching physical pain, trauma and PTSD can lead to debilitating anxiety attacks which sap the body and mind of strength.
But as individuals work through difficult issues in their lives during whole person treatment – emotional, physical or sexual abuse as a child, extreme violence in combat, sudden and violent loss of a loved one – they begin to release pent-up tension, stress and even toxins within their system.
Over a period of time, working through these issues provides balance, acceptance where possible, and resolution. And with that, chronic pain begins to subside. For many, treatment provides relief after years of trying numerous unsuccessful methods.
Facts about PTSD
The following statistics are based on the U.S. population:
- About 10% of adults are experiencing trauma or PTSD at any given time.
- About 45 million Americans, or 18% of adults either have or are experiencing PTSD.
- About 10 of every 100 women (or 10%) develop PTSD sometime in their lives compared with about 4 of every 100 men (or 4%) making women more than twice as likely to experience PTSD.
Do You or a Loved One Experience Chronic Pain of an Unknown Origin?
For many with chronic pain, they have resolved themselves to believe that their pain “just is what it is” and they will live with it. Efforts to relieve the pain have not worked. While many certainly have physical conditions produce persistent pain, it is possible that unexplained pain may not be from an injury or illness, but from a deeply hosted emotional, traumatic episode or episodes.
If you believe your physical pain may be a result of trauma or PTSD, treatment may be a solution for you. I invite you to call one of our Admissions Team Specialists and visit with them about our programs for trauma and PTSD. 888.771.5166.
Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE in Edmonds, Washington, voted a top ten facility for the treatment of depression in the United States. Dr. Jantz pioneered Whole Person Care in the 1980’s and is a world-renowned expert on eating disorders, depression, anxiety, technology addiction, and abuse. He is a leading voice and innovator in Mental Health utilizing a variety of therapies including nutrition, sleep therapy, spiritual counseling, and advanced DBT techniques. Dr. Jantz is a best-selling author of 38 books and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN