The Connection between Emotional and Physical Pain

by Laura McKaig, MSPT

“The Xrays and MRI came back negative. Your lab results are unremarkable. I’m sorry but I can’t find a physical basis for your pain.” The doctor exits the room, and you are left with your thoughts: “So, am I imagining this? Is it all in my head? Why won’t anybody believe me?”

No, it is NOT “just in your head.” Actually, your physical pain could be a product of your emotions. There is a very real connection between emotional energy and the nerves, muscles and fascia of the body. Scientific studies have shown that the same areas of the brain are activated by both emotional trauma and physical pain. In his book, Taming the Tiger, Peter Levine states that emotional trauma can take many forms. “Most of us have been traumatized, not just soldiers or victims of abuse or attacks. [Trauma can] include natural disasters (earthquakes, tornadoes, fires, floods), accidents, surgical or dental procedures, sudden loss, difficult births, and even high levels of stress during gestation.”

Such traumatic experiences create an incredible amount of emotional energy which must go somewhere. Did you know that the pelvis is one of the main areas of the body where our deepest and strongest emotions are stored? When we experience an emotional stress or trauma, that emotional energy can either be released and expressed, or it can be suppressed. One of the ways our body hides unreleased emotional energy is by tightening the muscles involved. It’s almost as if the trauma energy gets “stuck” in certain muscles. Over time, this tension builds up, especially in the pelvic muscles. Left untreated, this can lead to pelvic pain and other chronic pain disorders.

The first step in unraveling this habitual and unconscious pattern is to be aware of this connection between the mind and the body. “Without the body and mind accessed together as a unit we will not be able to deeply understand or heal trauma,” Levine says.

We believe that your pain is REAL, and we want to help you on your journey toward complete healing.
Emotional, spiritual, and physical healing!  I am a physical therapist who specializes in treating pelvic floor dysfunctions and pelvic pain at WellCare Physical Therapy, LLC, in Overland Park.

Laura’s Contact Information:
Phone: 913-940-3923
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Laura is a new volunteer at GateWay of Hope and wants to help women pursue emotional and physical healing! Thanks Laura for this contribution to our newsletter!