Can Your Body Language Change Chronic Pain?

Dr. Gordon Irving is the head of the Swedish Medical Center Chronic Pain Program. His group has embraced the treatment principles of the Mind Body Syndrome. All of us have different tools and styles but the essence of our approaches is similar. 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 is a woman who has suffered as much as anyone I have met. She is one step from living on the street with severe pain throughout her whole body. Different drug addictions have also been problematic. I started to work with her 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 six months ago she began to be more alert and interactive.

Sitting Up Straight

Two visits ago she began to ask multiple questions and I was able to give her my book. Last week I was stunned. Her appearance was much different. She was less disheveled and she looked in the eye. What was the most remarkable was she was sitting up straight. The difference in her demeanor was impressive and inspiring. She was the one who pointed out to me that she had made a decision to sit up straight. There was the added benefit of having less stress on her lower back and experiencing less pain.

I am very interested to see how this concept plays out. I think it has potential.