Online Trauma, EMDR and IFS Therapy in San Francisco  |  Beyond Words Psychotherapy  |  44 Tehama St, San Francisco, CA 94105  |  Tel: 510-735-8868

Chronic Pain Management and Treatment

Putting an End to Chronic Pain

When your body cries out in pain each and every day … when you feel physically incapable of taking part in the activities that once brought meaning and joy to your life … I know how easy it can be to give up hope.

Fortunately, your reading this right now tells me you haven’t lost hope.

And I’m here to let you know that you’re FAR from alone. And help is available!

However, in order to understand how I can help, the first thing we need to look at is …

The Origins of Your Pain

Despite the numerous studies showing that 1 in 5 Americans struggle with some type of chronic pain, western medicine seems to rarely talk about, let alone understand, pain.

Whether you’re struggling with some kind of arthritic pain in your knees, knuckles, wrists, hips, or hands, have persistent age- or injury-related pain in your neck, shoulders, or lower back, recurring headaches, or a condition like fibromyalgia, pain is simply your body’s way of telling you that something’s not right.

But pain never feels “simple.” And if you’re in pain, all you want is relief … now!

Unfortunately, most medical practitioners only offer physical solutions for what they see as a physical problem. Doctors prescribe painkillers or some other type of meds that only treat the symptoms of your pain. Or they suggest surgical procedures that can be just as unbearable as the pain itself.

What often goes overlooked is that pain is NOT simply a physical symptom.

If you think about it for any length of time, you realize that we all experience pain differently, and differently at different times. This is because there isn’t a direct correlation between physical injury and pain.

In fact, MRI scans show that there is no single pain center in the brain.

When we experience pain, different areas of our brains “light up” representing all aspects of what it means to be human: the sensory, cognitive, and emotional centers, as well as our beliefs, memories, and our expectations.

In other words, pain isn’t a feeling that’s detected by the brain. It’s a feeling that is MADE in the brain.

Pain can be thought of as your brain’s “opinion” on your physical state of health, rather than a reaction to a specific problem or injury.

And this “opinion” is influenced by numerous factors, including your emotional state and any previous traumatic experiences that affect your brain’s expectations around pain.

So, as counter-intuitive as it may seem, pain isn’t just a physical sensation. It’s both a sensory and emotional experience that can be seen as a protector, alerting us to danger and damage, even if or when none exists.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying pain isn’t physical. But it’s definitely not JUST physical.

This means, if you’re looking for fast, effective relief from your chronic pain, you need to look beyond simply physical treatments …

Somatic and EMDR Therapy for Chronic Pain

The science behind how trauma affects us physically is fascinating.

Traumatic events have even been shown to affect us on a cellular level. And years of holding trauma can lead our bodies to experience pain, even in parts of our bodies where no physical injury has occurred.

In short, pain and trauma are often inextricably linked.

And just as with the cognitive and emotional effects of trauma, such as flashbacks and hyper-vigilance, pain can settle in, become chronic, and refuse to dissipate until you process the underlying trauma that led to it.

To make matters worse, high levels of emotional stress, anxiety, and depression often stem from prior traumatic experiences. And they can all prolong and intensify our experiences of pain.

Of course, you can’t change what’s happened in the past.

But, by learning to regulate your mood, adjust your expectations, and lessen the impact of traumatic memories, you CAN decrease and even overcome the pain you’re experiencing!

This is where somatic therapy techniques such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) can be extremely helpful …

EMDR therapy involves recalling traumatic thoughts, feelings, memories, emotions, or even the chronic pain itself, while a therapist engages you in a series of external bilateral stimuli, such as eye movements or tapping, to “desensitize” the traumatic nature of the experience. This desensitization allows you to gradually shift, and even change, the emotions connected with traumatic events or chronic pain to more positive, empowering ones, thus “reprocessing” or reshaping that memory or experience and decreasing the pain associated with it.

In addition to the EMDR-specific element of “desensitization and reprocessing,” other somatic therapy techniques can help you lessen, and even eliminate, the pain you’re experiencing, through:

  • Practicing relaxation techniques such as mindfulness, deep breathing, and meditation;
  • Accepting what has happened and who you are, which allows your brain to relax and feel safer and more secure; and
  • Exploring and changing any unconscious beliefs or behaviors that are keeping you from enjoying life to its fullest;

This all leads to the question …

Can EMDR and Somatic Therapy Really Help You?

Given chronic pain’s frequent roots in emotional and physical trauma, and how emotional disturbances (such as anxiety and depression) compound the nature of pain, it’s not surprising that various types of psychotherapy have proven beneficial in the treatment of chronic pain.

Anything that increases your sense of safety, peace, and joy can help lessen your pain.

This isn’t to say that pain is “all in your head” or that overcoming chronic pain is simply an issue of “mind over matter.”

But we need to acknowledge that our emotions, mood, and expectations have an enormous influence on pain.

Remember, trauma changes the very structure and nature of our brains, and any chronic pain treatment that ignores trauma’s role in causing and exacerbating pain barely begins to scratch the surface.

Fortunately, the science of neuroplasticity shows us that we can change the structure and nature of our brains through focus and practice …

And EMDR and the other somatic therapy techniques I provide can help you do just that!

There are now numerous clinical studies that demonstrate the efficacy and safety of EMDR in the treatment of different pain conditions.

These studies consistently show significant and lasting decreases in chronic pain levels and increases in clients’ ability to manage any pain they still experience following treatment.

EMDR may even be able to help you reduce or eliminate your need for pain medications and any physical disabilities you’re struggling with, as well as help you reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Of course, as we’ve already discussed, we all experience pain differently.

There is no “silver bullet” when it comes to treating chronic pain, and no treatment works equally well for everyone.

That being said, EMDR and somatic therapy for chronic pain offer hope for anyone whose body is crying out in anguish, and who’s ready to do the work necessary to heal emotional trauma and resolve painful memories and experiences.

If you’re ready to learn how EMDR and somatic therapy can help you effectively manage and even put an end to your pain, I encourage you to contact me today at 510-735-8868 or email me at scott@beyondwordspsychotherapy.com with any questions you have or to schedule an initial consultation. I look forward to speaking with you and helping you create a life that’s truly worth living!

Beyond Words Psychotherapy – EMDR Pain Reprocessing Therapy for Chronic Pain Management in San Francisco, CA, California

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