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Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash
Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Chronic pain doesn’t just happen to the body. It effects our thoughts and our feelings.

When pain persists beyond the body's normal healing range, 12-20 weeks (let alone over 6 months or even 6 years) it can make us worried and upset. That worry and upset can make the pain feel worse. In fact, studies now show that unchecked thoughts and feelings can hijack the body/mind setting off a vicious cycle of chronic pain.

Unrelenting stress creates wear and tear in the body. By design, stress prevents us from relaxing. A relaxed body/mind lives in a state of repair and allows us to breath more deeply and fully. Not breathing deeply and fully means that the body isn’t pumping enough blood to its vital parts, causing constrictions in those parts. Sustained constrictions of those parts causes pain in those and other nearby parts, which sounds-off more stress alarms, and round and round we go.

The body is programmed to return to wellness.

One way to mitigate pain and return yourself to wellness is to learn how to regulate your stress response. To do this, we must learn to interrupt our outdated auto-pilot programs, tune in to the present moment and get an accurate read on present danger. By hitting the pause button, we can choose a more appropriate stress response - one which matches the actual level of threat in the environment. By practicing this process over and over again we can preserve the necessary energy needed return to a baseline of wellness. To stick with the software metaphor - we have to “install" new neural programs which expand our resilience - our capacity to cope with stressors, which can break the cycle of pain.

Manage inappropriate, persistent and unwanted stress responses.

Another way to say this is, we should spend no MORE energy than is absolutely necessary to get away from, or to fight, the threat and no LESS energy than what the situation actually demands. Both is costly to our nervous system and/or body/mind. Imagine expending the same amount of energy to pick up a coffee mug as you would use to lift a 6 foot couch. Now, imagine going into a rage over a glass of spilled milk. In both cases, we waste precious energy which could be used to repair our overtaxed systems. It’s like going into credit card debt instead of paying cash. Eventually, we must pay the piper.

Why then, do we use these seemingly high level strategies for everything we do, if it will cost us our health? Typically, it’s because we haven’t fully understood the process until now, plus our culture values the “go, go, go, push, push, push” mentality. Luckily, the “new pain science” helps us understand how we can be hijacked by our systems. Until now, we didn’t fully understand how important it is to our mental, emotional, physical, social and spiritual health to pause, assess and match. We call it “regulation”.

So how do we hit the pause button on our disproportionate stress responses to help mitigate pain?

If you suspect mis-matched stress responses might be contributing to your pain symptoms, it may be time to seek out the help of an expert. Whether its outdated programming from childhood, unresolved trauma or injuries lingering in the tissue, developing some sustainable embodiment practices can help you pay off your debt.

What Our Patients Have to Say

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Testimonial by R.M., Age 40

I can’t speak highly enough of the theapists at Femina Physical Therapy and how much they have helped me grow, discover, and love my body. I had had painful sex for my entire life, and didn’t know that there was anything that could be done about it. It was at the point where my husband and I were not having sex for MONTHs, because it was just too frustrating, and I hated feeling like I was the ONLY woman out there who had this problem, especially at my age. I finally brought it up to my doctor because I was turning 40 and my husband and I were barely having enough sex to conceive. And she brought up pelvic floor, PT. I didn’t even know this was a “thing”.

Read more: Testimonial by R.M., Age 40

Testimonial by T.H.

I started seeing Heather in October 2014. For more than two years, I had been suffering from painful urinary tract infection type symptoms after my bartholins gland surgery which included constant burning and urinary frequency sensation that led to more and more painful intercourse. I had made multiple visits to internist, obgyn and urologist's offices, went through a range of treatment with UTI and bladder frequency medication that included antibiotics, vesicare, estrogen cream, but nothing worked.

Read more: Testimonial by T.H.

Testimonial by M.M.

A personal journey and testimonial from one of my patients:

My husband and I were married for 5 years before we were able to have intercourse due to my vaginismus. There was nothing traumatic in my past but for some reason, even though I wanted sex, I mentally avoided "that area" of my body and didn't even admit to myself that there was a problem for a long time, even though I was never able to put tampons in. Once I finally opened my eyes up to the fact that I had a problem, I had a surgery that was supposed to fix the issue.

Read more: Testimonial by M.M.

Testimonial by Lauren B.

Femina PT (née Fusion Wellness & Physical Therapy) has been such an answer to prayer, i'm so glad I found them! I've been struggling with vaginismus my whole life, but didn't have a name for it until about 6 or 7 months ago. Even once I did have a name for it though, I didn't know where to begin in getting help. My OB/GYN had me get a set of dilators, but I couldn't even insert the smallest one by myself. Most times I tried I just ended up frustrated and in tears. I felt really alone, like I was broken and didn't have the energy to keep trying. When I got engaged a few months ago though, I realized I needed to get answers so i wasn't dreading my honeymoon.

Read more: Testimonial by Lauren B.

Testimonial by J.B.

My husband and I were having problems with painful intercourse. My therapist recommended that I go and get a pelvic floor evaluation from a physical therapist. Having never been treated by a physical therapist, I wondered how this really was going to help me. My husband who is a physician was very supportive and agreed that a PT evaluation would be a great idea. So i made the appointment and was blown away by what I learned. I had no idea that pelvic floor muscles could get tight and have trigger points just like any other muscle in the body. I'm a massage therapist and very familiar with tight muscles, and this new thought really amazed me. Heather's program to help relax and strengthen these muscles made such a difference. I can say that I am 100% pain free during intercourse now. Yippee! Going to the PT appointments and doing the at-home exercises was definitely a discipline, but it's 100% worth it! The rewards are amazing.

-- J.B.

Testimonial by R.S.

I wanted to thank you so much for helping me get through something I thought I may never be able to. We have achieved pain-free intercourse and this has really solidified our marriage. We are so grateful to you for all the work you do! Thank you!!

-- R.S.

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