Saturday, January 8, 2011
Trauma, Pain, and the Freeze
I get many questions about the link between pain and trauma.......for a start, chronic progressive pain syndromes like "complex regional pain syndrome type I" (formerly known as "RSD") have their basis, not in organic injury (though they often start with an injury), but in the flight, fight, freeze syndrome. In a moment of shock or fear, the system goes into auto-pilot and cuts off certain self-healing behaviors to assure safety. Sometimes, even after the injury heals and the moment of fear (auto accident, fall down the stairs, etc.) is over, the brain does not kick into recovery mode, and continues to perceive the limb as injured. We call this dissociation--in this case a divergence between perception and reality causing faulty operation of a system. This has the effect of rendering medication, surgery, and physical therapy ineffective (sometimes even harmful), as the key to healing is actually changing the perception! The freeze mode is an endorphergically charged pattern, which prevents even the strongest pain medications from breaking through, and represents wild oscillations of the autonomic nervous system, which can cause anxiety, insomnia, digestive difficulties, memory and concentration deficits, and, of course, PAIN. The key is in the brain--getting the perceptions in line with reality and exiting the freeze. RSD? Call for more information--you can learn to feel well!