Use Your Brain, Heal Your Pain

chronic pain neuroplasticity Mar 28, 2024
nervous system and pain

Understanding Pain: How Your Brain Can Help You Heal

For 10 years I practiced yoga daily, meditated regularly, and still, I lived with exhausting, debilitating chronic back and foot pain. 

My quest to learn to move and live without pain is how I became a NeuroMovement Practitioner. I feel confident saying you can learn your way out of pain.

Chronic pain can be incredibly frustrating. It can feel like your body is constantly betraying you. Pain can feel like an “it” doing something to you, and it's easy to get discouraged.  But there's good news: you have more control over your pain than you might think!

Here's a secret: pain isn't just a physical sensation, it's a complex story your brain tells itself. Let's break it down a little. Here are some basic plot points in the pain story:

  • The Nociceptors Conflict: These are like tiny alarms in your body that go off when they sense potential tissue damage.
  • The Signal Journey: The alarm sends a signal up your nerves to your spinal cord and then your brain.
  • The Brain's Role: The brain interprets the signal, adding emotional layers like fear or anxiety based on memory and context, and determines how intense the pain feels. In essence, the brain wants to protect you, but sometimes it can be overprotective. 

Here's the key takeaway: your thoughts, emotions, and memories all play a role in how you experience pain. Dwelling on the pain, catastrophizing ("This is the worst pain ever!"), or getting overly dramatic can actually amplify the pain signals in your brain.

(Recently, when my husband had an unusual  pain in his hip for several weeks, he suddenly cried out with despair, “Am I going to have to get hip surgery????”)

Part of changing pain is changing your pain story. 

So, how can you change the pain story?

 

  • Education is Power: Understanding how pain works is the first step. By learning the science behind it, you can detach from the emotional spiral and approach it more objectively. A great (and fun!) place to start is with Painful Yarns: Metaphors and Stories to Help Understand the Biology of Pain by Lorimer Moseley.* 
  • Focus on Solutions: Instead of dwelling on the pain, shift your focus to finding solutions. Can you learn better movement skills? Practice relaxation techniques? Explore natural pain management strategies? (Hint: Yes, you can!)
  • Challenge Negative Thoughts: When you catch yourself catastrophizing, challenge those thoughts. Remind yourself that pain can fluctuate, and you've coped with it before.

 

That’s exactly what I did. In my case, I got educated by taking NeuroMovement  training to learn new principles of movement and ways of moving.

I focused on solutions by practicing movement lessons regularly, which not only changed how I move but also retrained my nervous system, brain and pain response. 

 

And I challenged negative thinking by trusting that if I committed to the process, I would figure it out. When I felt down, I practiced my mantra: “Every day in every way I’m getting better and better.” My pain didn't disappear immediately. It took months of committed practice to doing NeuroMovementⓇ lessons to create change. But once that happened, the pain has been gone ever since. 



Remember: You are not your pain. 

By taking control of the narrative and focusing on solutions, you can rewrite your pain story and move towards healing and a better quality of life.

 

Many of my students work with me in person or take my courses primarily because they are struggling with pain. I have seen remarkable success with those who are willing to be patient, learn the principles, and practice putting them into action with NeuroMovement  lessons. I have also seen some struggle to overcome learned habits and beliefs that keep them trapped in pain cycles. I’m not saying it's easy. But I’m saying it's very much possible. And if you’ve ever suffered with chronic pain, you’ll know that at some point- there's nothing left to lose! 

 

My students’ success inspired me to spend the last few years creating a rich body of online program content using the NeuroMovement method, that they could access from wherever they are in the world. That content has evolved into the Moovy Studio, where I’ve created accessible programs designed to build resilience, and recover health and vibrancy. 

 

So, if you’re living with persistent pain, ask yourself, do you want to stick with that story, or is there a new story you want to create? If not now, when?

 

When you’re ready to start writing your new future narrative, reach out to me. That’s what I’m here for!

 

*I'm certified as a Pain Educator through with Lorimer Moseley's Neuro Orthopaedic Institute Australasia -NOI Group

 

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