Can Your Body Language Change Chronic Pain?

posted in: Stories of Hope

Dr. Gordon Irving was in charge of Swedish Medical Center Chronic Pain Program for many years. His group has embraced the treatment principles of the Neurophysiologic Disorder (NPD. Although each of us have different tools and styles, the essence of our approaches is similar. One of them being you cannot calm your mind with your mind but you can calm down your mind with your body. There are numerous ways to accomplish this state of mind. He sent this video to me with the question, “Can a patient use these body posture concepts to help create alternative brain pathways that help in solving chronic pain?”

Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are

Interestingly enough I had a patient come into clinic about two days after he sent me this video. She was a woman who had suffered as much as anyone I have met. She was one step from living on the street with severe pain throughout her whole body. Different drug addictions had also been problematic. I had worked with her for a couple of years ago without any shred of hope for her. She would intermittently return to clinic with some hints of interest, but no real engagement. Her posture was always one of sitting almost doubled over, and she would never look at me. However, she did begin the exercise of writing down her anxiety and frustrations and throwing them away. About a year into the process, she began to be more alert and interactive.

Sitting Up Straight

Then she began to ask multiple questions and I was able to give her my book. She came in one week and I was stunned. Her appearance was much different. She was less disheveled and she looked at me directly in the eye. What was the most remarkable was she was sitting up straight. The difference in her demeanor was impressive and inspiring. She pointed out to me that she had made a decision to sit up straight. There was also the added benefit of having less stress on her lower back. Function can follow form and this appears one approach that can contribute to your overall well-being.