Cindy Perlin, LCSW – Healed Chronic Pain with Biofeedback and Bodywork
Cindy Perlin, LCSW – Healed Chronic Pain with Biofeedback and BodyworkOctober 26th, 2017 by Cindy Perlin
When I was 25 years old, something happened which stopped me in my tracks. I was healthy and active and creating a happy and meaningful life for myself. I was in graduate school working on a Master’s Degree in Social Work.
I had just decided to start running to get in better shape. After a short time, my back started bothering me so I went to a doctor who advised me to stop running and gave me some back exercises. Everything I tried to do to help myself seemed to make the pain worse. Soon, I was in agonizing pain 24/7. I could barely even sit in a chair to eat, and eventually dropped out of graduate school.
For the next 3 ½ years I barely functioned because of the pain. I consulted with many doctors who couldn’t find anything wrong with me. They put me on many different drugs, including anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants and narcotics. The drugs turned me into a zombie and didn’t help my pain. I saw a chiropractor who helped a little, then an osteopath who told me to stay in bed until I felt better and do nothing except come to see him for spinal manipulation. I spent six weeks in bed and felt even worse. It didn’t help my emotional state in that I passed the time by watching the Holocaust miniseries on TV and reading novels about World War II.
I had spiraled down into despair and having suicidal thoughts when a friend recommended that I read a book about the mind/body connection. Up until this time I had no idea that what was in my mind affected my body. The book mentioned biofeedback, which uses sensitive instruments to measure physiology and provides the information to help the patients learn to control their bodies. So, I decided to find a biofeedback therapist.
At my first biofeedback session the therapist explained how fear and worry created more pain and instructed me in relaxation techniques to manage my thoughts while he measured the results with biofeedback. He sent me home with a biofeedback device that measured my hand temperature, a measure of stress. My pain decreased 50% in a day! I had been thinking that the pain was my body attacking me and that I had no control. The psychologist taught me that I was helping to create the pain and that it was something that I could learn to control.
I started measuring my hand temperature throughout the day and doing relaxation techniques to stay in the relaxed range and within a short time I was feeling well enough to get back to work. I wasn’t entirely pain free yet and that was my goal.
Another mind/body technique I learned later that helped was self-hypnosis to connect with and process all of the negative emotions from experiences in my past that I had never allowed myself to feel before.
Things were going pretty well for me for a few years until I developed a bone spur in my foot that caused a sharp pain with every step. After more conservative measures to deal with it failed, I had surgery on my foot to remove the bone spur. After the surgery I developed a different kind of foot pain that got worse and worse over time, to the point that I could not walk without severe pain.
The mind/body treatments that had helped me with my back were useless with my foot pain. It took me 14 years to find a solution: Rolfing, a very deep bodywork that stretches out muscles, tendons and the underlying tissues known as fascia to restore normal balance to the body. After just two sessions of Rolfing, I felt like I had a new foot.
From these experiences I’ve learned that there are different kinds of pain that require different solutions and to never give up no matter what.
It’s been 40 years since my first episode of chronic pain and I’ve had other pain challenges along the way. I’ve realized that doctors have little understanding of the causes of chronic pain and often harm more than they help. Patients only occasionally find the right treatment. That’s why my mission is to help pain patients quickly find safe and effective treatments! See my provider listing here: Cindy Perlin, LCSW