A Way through the Pain Gate

Still reading Freedom from Pain by Dr. Norman J. Marcus. Very interesting as it is a drug-free approach. Whether it will work or not is another matter, but I am prejudiced in favour as it does support what I instinctively feel is right. Yet, I haven’t had much success, so who knows what is right?

He talks about the importance of abdominal breathing, which is old hat from meditation and stress management seminars. But his angle is interesting: that shallow breathing tightens muscles which increases pain. (Info on how to do abdominal breathing.)

Most interesting of all is his clear explanation of the pain gate cycle. When we hurt, the damaged part sends information to the brain. The brain then processes the feeling through memories, emotional reactions and also deductions of your mood from how you are standing and moving. This altered information is sent back down through the spinal chord to the originalmsite where it is felt as pain. He shows it in a diagram with gates between each section.

He also, for which I am grateful, says definitely that this does NOT mean pain is all in the mind, which is what my pain specialist also stressed.

But what is most interesting, and I haven’t found anywhere else, is his belief that you can affect the gates by your posture and emotions. If you are stressed, say late against traffic or had a row with your partner, then the gates will be wider open and your pain ratcheted up. He suggests you can at least make choices that keep the gates from opening wider. I wish I could quote more directly from the book, but I can’t because of copyright.

What I can do, though, is try some of his suggestions and report how it goes. To start with, I am going to:

  • Move as if pain-free
  • Try to belly breathe, keeping shoulders still – remember to check during the day
  • Walk and move young – not with hands in pocket
  • Keep my shoulders down, not hunched or bowed

I am also going to try to avoid “should” – either telling myself I should or shouldn’t do something or thinking others should have reacted towards me in a particular way. I will try and hang looser and state preferences rather than “should”, “must” or “have to”.

It’s a beginning and gives me new hope. Anything that gives me a possibility to move forward, something that I can DO, makes me buoyant and joyful for the future.

Further information on Dr. Marcus and his Pain Management Program:

Interview with Dr. Marcus, where he explains the theory behind his program – link.

Norman Marcus Pain Institute, formerly New York Pain Treatment, Lennox Hill Hospital – link

Freedom from Pain: The Breakthrough Program that Brings Relief to Chronic Sufferers by Norman J. Marcus MD. – link

Note: I have no connection with Dr. Marcus or the Pain Program. I give info purely to help those interested.


About UntraveledRoads

Fascinated by life, looking for answers to chronic pain and finding unexpected gifts. Interested in people, ideas, healing and humour. I am very happily married with three children and a kitten. As English born immigrants to Canada, we have family spread overseas, a daughter in South Africa and one in England. We also run a charity in South Africa to educate black, rural South African Women. Our first girl from a rural township has just graduated as an accountant from Johannesburg University and got a good job in a bank.
This entry was posted in back pain, Brain and Pain, chronic pain, pain - coping techniques, pain relief and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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