Experiencing pain when there is nothing ‘wrong’ Posted on Tags , , ,

My students have shared many stories about going to good, qualified, caring physicians to be told that they couldn’t find anything ‘wrong’ in the x-ray, scan, etc. Yet, you are still experiencing pain. Real pain. I am hearing this so often my curiousity kicked in to over-drive. I know that there is more to healing pain than simply physical healing of tissues. I strongly suspect your physician knows this to. But, is there credible, science-based evidence to support this?

In November this year, I had the privilege of attending a Pain and Healing Conference[i] and I was truly blown away by an amazing shift that is slowly, steadily happening in our knowledge, understanding and practice of pain science.

So why is a yoga therapist so interested in pain science? Good question. Based on my own successful experiences using Yoga Therapy to improve post concussion symptoms and quite separately a broken scaphoid, I kept wondering why and how I could dig in and help others get good results. The practice of yoga, or the “Yoga of Inquiry” as Donna Farhi[ii] refers to it, can help us build the skills to heal ourselves. In his conference interview, Dr. Matthew Taylor[iii], believes this is largely due to the inherent structure of Yoga philosophy and practices which integrates physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual layers of being human. He also adds that practice must go beyond postures or Asana (Ah-sah-na) to integrate benefits and reduce pain and suffering.

What was so exciting for me is the growing body of proof – scientific evidence that suggests that pain is a result of many, many factors. In their series of books on Pain, Lorimer Moseley[iv] and David Butler[v], Pain Scientists, have collected, assessed, summarized, and expanded existing work and determined that our previous belief that pain is in the tissues is incorrect. In other words, there is no direct relationship between tissue that has healed and the reduction of pain OR the amount of tissue damage and an increase in pain. Pain relies on many things including context (our beliefs, attitudes, culture, etc.). This idea that pain relies in part on context is the big reason for hope because it gives us so many more tools to use to reduce the pain AND reduce the suffering.

“Your body’s health is a result of the different habits you have” observes Dr. Kulreet Chaudry[vi], integrative neurologist. Good health, good habits. Those habits vary from what and how you eat to how we respond to the signs our body sends to tell us whether we are on or off tracks. If you have seen me in person, you might recognize this as a conversation we have had about noticing your warning lights or sign posts. And this is where focussed yoga therapy comes in.

Yoga Therapy is all about shifting habits – the habits of how we move, hold, or release tension, and the patterns that got us where we are. I am more passionate than ever, that working with client to develop their own regular, appropriate, and mindful practice will reduce pain as well as suffering. Bit by bit, over time, it is possible to transform to a more whole, healthier state. There is hope. More ease is possible.

If you are experiencing chronic pain, I believe you. If you are interested in finding out more about building habits to reduce chronic pain contact me directly for more information. I would love to hear your story.

Here is to a more whole and healthy 2018.


[i] Susi Hately’s Online Pain and Healing Conference (November 2017), www.functionalsynergy.com/shop

[ii] Donna Farhi, (2017) Keynote Address: What is Yoga?, IYTA 50th Anniversary: Sydney, AU. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMtteRF_GBs#action=share

[iii]  Dr. Matthew G. Taylor, (August 2017) Interview – Susi Hately’s Online Pain and Healing Conference; Functional Synergy Inc.: Calgary, AB. www.matthewgtaylor.com

[iv] Dr. Lorimer Mosely, Professor Clinical Neuroscience Studies, University of South Australia. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Lorimer_Moseley2

[v] Dr. David S. Butler, Professor of Mathematics Learning Centre, University of South Australia. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/David_Butler14

[vi] Dr. Kulreet Chaudry, (November 2017), Interview: Susi Hately’s Online Pain and Healing Conference. Functional Synergy: Calgary, AB. http://drkulreetchaudhary.com/