My Experience with Chronic Pain

While at a course over the past weekend, I learned about the emotional freedom technique. It has been successfully used to treat the effects of fear, phobias, PTSD, guilt, depression, anxiety and other disorders. The technique is performed while tapping over specific acupuncture points while imagining negative events. 

During orientation for my PT school, I realize my fear of heights when facing a high ropes course. I was unable to complete the course due to my fear of heights and had to come down. While at the course this weekend, I volunteered to be the subject for an example use of the EFT dealing with fears/phobias. When describing my fear of heights and that situation to my classmates, my heart rate increased and my heart was pounding, my face became red, I felt my body temperature rise, and my palms were sweating. While my instructor tapped specific points on my face, and I repeated a phrase regarding my fear of heights, I felt my body temperature lower, my heart slow down and the anxiety I was experiencing was greatly reduced. Wowza.

There is a chronic pain epidemic we are dealing with in America, studies in 2010 showed 1 in 4 individuals suffer from chronic pain. Studies have found that chronic depression is closely linked to chronic pain- these are estimated to overtake Diabetes and obesity by 2025. Pain science is emerging, and we are learning that to treat chronic pain at the source is to treat the brain. 

While some of my colleagues may find this stuff hokey-pokey, I think there really is something here. I injured my back/SI joint in 2014, and struggled for MONTHS, trying to figure out how to fix myself or find someone to fix me. After taking months off from working out, I was continuing to have pain. Frustrated, and at my wit's end, I scheduled an appointment with a spine specialist- who ended up telling me I should never lift again and I would need a fusion in a year or two, and had no reaction to watching me cry in his office. I did get the MRI he ordered, which was exactly the same as an MRI I had in 2007 of my lumbar spine. 

I contacted my first CrossFit coach, a chiropractor, who told me to come see him. I went, and that's where my recovery began. Jon started me on a program working to restore primal movements such as rolling, in addition to monitoring inflammatory markers with bloodwork. I improved, but continued to have pain, so a diet similar to Whole30 was suggested by Jon. Within a couple weeks, I felt the best I'd felt in a long time, and my inflammation markers were normal. That's when I began to really connect the dots between nutrition and injury.

Throughout my injury, I struggled with depression. Being not able to do one of your favorite things in the world- lifting/working out, especially when you own a gym is devastating. As I described to my husband multiple times, I felt like I had broken up with boyfriend, but kept running into them everywhere I went- it was a constant reminder of what I couldn't do.  I was struggling and felt that no one understood. My husband was there by my side throughout it all, but I felt that he struggled to understand how I really felt.

Eventually I continued to get better, and was slowly able to resume CrossFitting. I've slowly worked to address areas that I know to be deficits, and prior to becoming pregnant I was getting close to "pre-injury" Katie. My gymnastic skills were better than they were before, and now my strength is slowly coming back. A few nights ago, my husband commented on how he could tell I was feeling better- I was much happier. Becoming pregnant has helped loosen up my pelvis, which is where a majority of my issues were originating from.

I can personally attest to how my depression fueled my pain. I felt there was no hope, no light at the end of the tunnel, because no one seemed to be able to help me. That's when I knew I had to keep learning more- and learn more of the "alternative" or "less mainstream" stuff, because that's where the real solutions were. When you're constantly depressed, without any sort of positivity (that's how it seemed at least), it wasn't surprising that I continued to have pain, despite that my injury should have healed.

So why? Well first off, I trained for about 3 months, because my pain did not feel debilitating enough to stop me. When I realized I wasn't getting better, I stopped. I never really took the time I needed initially to really address my symptoms, so my body went through "central sensitization". Basically my nervous system got reset to be hypersensitive. Add stress with work, trying to fix myself (because that's what a good PT would do), helping run our new business and all the other usual stresses.

So from here, I hope to start using some EFT in treatments with patients who have had chronic pain. I think it will be much harder for me to incorporate it in the clinic I work for- seems to be harder to go against the grain there than blazing my own trail at the gym. If you're interested in EFT treatment, please contact me- remember I'm just starting to explore this area but I want to help people get better.

If you made it all the way through, congrats- you're awesome! Stay tuned for more from me next week!