Psychosomatic herniated disc pain is a lesser considered but very common source of enduring chronic symptoms which are often mistakenly linked to a coincidental disc abnormality. The psychosomatic process has proven itself to be involved in numerous mindbody health issues, including many instances of back and neck pain. However, we find that virtually all patients misunderstand the actual meaning of psychosomatic and therefore seek to clarify this critical issue.
This resource section will detail how and why the subconscious mind can cause or contribute to the occurrence of symptoms in many patients. Furthermore, we will investigate the evidence of this process and seek to demystify the link between the physical and the psychological aspects of chronic pain.
Psychosomatic does not mean imaginary or not real. It simply designates actual physical symptoms which are caused by, worsened by or perpetuated by a psychoemotional process. In essence, these symptoms are just like truly anatomically-motivated pain in their expression, but are enacted through nonstructural processes and for nonstructural reasons. Since herniations are so typical in many areas of the spine, the symptoms are often mistakenly blamed on these innocent disc irregularities.
Mindbody interactions are responsible for all conditions of health and disease which exist in the physical anatomies of every human being on this planet. No one is immune from suffering some degree of psychosomatic pain in life. Medical science does not like the word psychosomatic, so you will often hear this topic being discussed as stress-related pain instead.
Let’s start with some easy examples of mindbody interactions:
It is easy to see how fear causes a physical response. The heart rate increases, perspiration begins and the pupils enlarge.
The fight or flight response may actually shut down many nonessential anatomical processes to redirect more blood to major muscles.
Nervousness or embarrassment will cause blushing, sweating and the inability to maintain eye contact in most people.
Physical sexual response is definitely a set of completely emotionally-driven anatomical processes in both men and women.
Ok, here is a more complicated example:
Emotional anxiety will prevent the body from resting. Sleep does not come easy and even when it does, the emotional mind does not allow the body to recuperate. Instead, the anxiety often infiltrates the subconscious mind while it should be resting, causing nightmarish dreams and a restless sleep.
Get the idea? Ok, it’s time to talk about how the mind can cause, worsen or perpetuate back pain.
Psychosomatic pain exists due to unresolved emotional issues which are repressed in the subconscious mind. These thoughts, feelings and memories are directly responsible for causing physical pain and related bodily or psychological symptoms as part of the repression process. In essence, the mind will use the pain as a camouflage, concealer or smokescreen, to hide these emotionally-charged repressed thoughts.
These powerful negative emotions can relate to any number of life experiences, but are often tied to events which hold great pain for us or situations which were never truly worked out. Being that these emotional issues are repressed, you do not think about them or even know they are causing you such health troubles, since they exist under the surface of conscious thought, in the deepest recesses of your subconscious mind.
Ok, so pain can be related to emotions, but how does the mind actually enact bodily symptoms? Once again, the answer is deceptively simple.
Herniated disc fear factors into every mindbody expression.
Herniated disc scapegoats exist in countess patients who seek unneeded care for basically normal disc degeneration.
Herniated disc nocebo can actually cause pain simply due to a programmed response to the diagnostic conclusion.
Oxygen deprivation, also known as ischemia back pain, is the anatomical process used as the enforcer of the subconscious mind’s desires. Simple ischemia can be enacted easily through the autonomic system and can be directed at any of the body’s locations or systems. The most common symptoms caused by this process include:
* Back, neck or sciatica pain
* Plantar fasciitis
* Carpal tunnel syndrome
* Fibromyalgia, myofascial pain
* Obsessive compulsive disorder
* Chronic fatigue syndrome
* Some forms of asthma
* Some forms of prostatitis
* Some allergies
* Iliotibial band syndrome
* Paroxysmal hypertension
* Bell’s palsy
* Repetitive strain disorder
* Sexual dysfunction in males and females
* Chronic or repetitive urinary tract infections
* Stomach sensitivity, IBS, digestive concerns, ulcers
* Shoulder, knee, wrist and other joint pain syndromes
* Headaches including migraines and tension varieties
* Skin disorders including adult acne, eczema, and psoriasis
Believe it or not, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to psychosomatic pain. This process is truly involved in every health-related and disease-related change which occurs in our bodies every day of our lives.
Ischemia leaves virtually no physical evidence, except for residual clues in the nuclei of affected cells, and is rarely diagnosed. This explains why so many of these conditions have experienced such unchecked growth in the past few decades. Luckily, the process is basically harmless and can usually be reversed at any time using easy to learn knowledge therapy techniques.
In the case of a herniated disc, the structural condition exists, but is not responsible for any painful complaint. It is merely a convenient diagnostic scapegoat. The pain is actually the result of mild ischemia of the surrounding nerve and muscle tissues. Even the lowest levels of oxygen deprivation will affect the neurological structures near the herniated disc. This will cause localized and radiating nerve pain, tingling, numbness or weakness.
Higher levels of ischemia will result in acute flare ups of muscular spasm and severe gripping back muscle pain. Once the acute ischemia event passes, the patient is left with the low level chronic nerve pain once again and a progressive sense of fear and dread which actually helps perpetuate the ongoing ischemic process.
It is indeed a vicious cycle.
This article might seem like a lot to take in all at once. Try coming back and reading it a few more times over the course of several days. Breaking out of the old mind set of a physical herniated disc diagnosis being responsible for your pain can be a real challenge for some patients.
Remember, the idea of psychosomatic pain must make sense to you if you are going to cure the condition.
Can you really have faith in the diagnosis of a herniated disc when your symptoms change and move around often?
Can you have faith in that diagnosis, when the same doctors who made it can not cure your pain?
Can you have faith in that diagnosis after learning the facts about herniated discs and discovering that they are rarely responsible for ongoing symptoms?
I did not think so. Luckily, that is the key to ending the psychosomatic herniated disc pain. Change your mindset and merely consider the alternate explanation.
Give knowledge therapy a try. It is free. It can be ultra-effective. It is time tested. In summary, there is nothing at all to lose by trying.
This article does not imply that all disc pain is psychogenic. Many cases are structurally-motivated or are a joint process of the mind and body. However, when purely anatomical pain exists, there are verifiable clues, such as definitive spinal stenosis or foraminal stenosis compressing a nerve. These circumstances do not represent the majority of disc abnormalities.
In fact, the vast majority of severely painful herniations demonstrate no pathological process whatsoever. It is in these cases that the possibility of psychogenic symptoms becomes much more logical.
Want to learn more? Read a detailed account of the psychology of herniated discs. If you are ready to get started treating the causative processes in the mind right now, then we highly recommend reading our book, which is dedicated to resolving the complexities of chronic and unresponsive pain.