Never underestimate the impact of emotional and psychological factors on human wellbeing. We know that the mind and the body are intimately related and someone’s pain may be a combination of multiple contributing factors; traumatic, physiological, psychological and emotional. It’s not just a question of rubbing a sore bit to make the pain go away. You have to get to the root of the problem and find the underlying causes.
If someone comes to me complaining of a pain in his or her neck, I may change that around and ask the question, ‘Who is the pain in the neck?’. Or if they say they have bad sciatica, I may ask ‘who or what is the pain in the backside?’
Quite often, they’ll think about it for a few seconds and then reply, ‘My boss actually, who is making my life hell’ or ‘my mother who is constantly criticizing me and making me feel a failure.’
In the first place, fear and stress causes a flood of chemicals and hormones to enter the bloodstream and move around the body. Over time, these chemicals can change the cellular biology, kick-starting organic disease.
A very stressful experience, grief or a relationship breakdown can leave their marks by literally throwing the body off kilter and causing the fulcrum, or core, to shift out of alignment. This can lead to aches and pains anywhere in the body, but particularly in the back, the neck, the shoulders and the knees, as the muscles and ligaments are all put under strain.
The damaging process is simple. When you tense up, your shoulders go up and your neck tightens, compressing the vertical column and creating a sore aching neck and back. This can also put pressure on the vagal nerve which runs from the base of the cranium through the neck sending nerve impulses to the liver and the heart and the digestive system, leading ultimately to stomach upsets and other physical problems.
Close interaction between a healthy mind and a healthy body is also fundamental to keeping the immune system robust. Stress is known to suppress the immune system, on a cellular level, making it harder for Killer B cells, and T cells to do their job and keep infections and bugs at bay. Suppressing emotion, which some people couch as ‘unshed tears’ is one of the most damaging things we can do to our bodies. Even developing babies can be affected by things that happen to the mother when they are still in the womb. If the mother experiences grief or trauma during the pregnancy this often leads to babies that continually cry or have colic or other digestive problems.
It is usually the case that patients not only need treatment to their bodies but help with understanding what is going on a deeper level and how to manage these issues. This goes hand in hand with working on a more healthy lifestyle and the introduction of exercise and dietary changes that are beneficial to the individual. Then over a period of time, the person begins to change, to feel better and is able to make the necessary changes in their lives that allow them to be truly happy.