How I developed central sensitization: Part 5

For a few years, I was stuck: caught between all of the doctors I saw, who thought there was something wrong with me psychologically, and the fact that deep inside of me was a calm, inner voice that knew it just wasn’t true.

***

Feeling as though I’d run out of other options, I became really interested in alternative medicine.

I still wanted an explanation for my pain that had something to do with my physical body.

I wanted to be seen; I wanted to be heard: I wanted to be believed.  And the alternative medicine practitioners I saw were able to provide me with that validation.  They believed me– of course the traditional doctors hadn’t been able to solve my problem.

***

For a while, I went a little bit off the deep end.  I read just about every book I could find on energy healing.  I started taking turmeric capsules instead of Advil; I bought crystals.

I began to see traditional medicine as somewhat of a sham, propped up by the pharmaceutical companies.  And I thought anything that fell under the heading of “alternative” medicine had to be good.

***

I had a lot of reasons to reject the “establishment” view.  The establishment, after all, is what failed me.  I’d slipped through the cracks, so many times; the safety nets I’d counted on had turned out to have holes in them.  Of course, it made sense that what was “traditional” had failed me again.

***

Now, I don’t want to offend anyone by insulting or dismissing an approach that has been helpful for them.  But if I were to give you the complete list of everything I tried, well, just about every “alternative” treatment is on it.

However, the truth is that nothing I tried worked, and all of it cost me a lot of time and money.

Looking back, there were definitely times when I must have been “that crazy person,” insisting to people that they try this same new treatment I was doing, or that they consider the fact that their headaches or thyroid problem could be entirely caused by blocked energy flow in the body.

My views have changed a lot since then– the science classes I’ve taken have opened my eyes to just how much we really do know, using “regular” science.

But I still have a lot of empathy for the “crazy” people, because I was one.  I know how easy it is to believe a convincing claim from a caring person who probably genuinely thinks they’re going to to help you.  Especially if you don’t have much of a scientific background.

I used to believe some crazy shit I’d be really embarrassed to admit to you now.

That’s why, even though my perspective has changed, I don’t believe in shaming people, or embarrassing them, for trying to do something to heal themselves.  Everyone is on their own path… and some of our paths can get a bit convoluted.

***

I’m not trying to say that alternative medicine doesn’t help anyone.  I believe there are some treatments that are probably more legitimate than others (for example, acupuncture has been shown to have some pretty significant effects for pain relief, although evidence suggests it may be more due to the body releasing endorphins in response to a needle than anything else).

But at the end of the day, I was struggling from the effects of central sensitization, which none of these belief/treatment systems had any means of addressing.  There’s no way any of these treatments were going to help me, because even my original “diagnosis” was always wrong.

I felt better, emotionally, when I was given an explanation that had to do with my physical body… but ultimately, all of the treatments fell short.

After all, there was no way any school of thought was going to help me, if it didn’t even have a name for my problem.

To be continued in Part 6!

To read this series from the beginning:

6 thoughts on “How I developed central sensitization: Part 5

  1. Hi Christie: I left you a comment a few months ago after reading about the TVA muscle. After 12 months, two physiotherapists I was beginning to think I would never be pain free. Because of you I did my research and called physio clinics and grilled them on treating SIJ dysfunction. I found a great therapist who taught me about engaging my TVA and a set of exercises that were not flaring my pain. My pelvis is now in alignment, sciatica and hip pain gone. He has suggested massage therapy because my back pain is from holding myself in protective mode for so long. I did read your artcle where you spoke about this. I am almost afraid to start massage therapy but simple household chores can make my back ache. Any suggestions on what I should look for in a massage therapist? Again thank you for your articles. You have helped me so much. BTW, what is it with some physiotherapists who don’t do hands on therapy? My therapist did stretching on me , no adjustments ☺

    • Hi Ann, I’m so glad to hear how much progress you’ve made so far! That’s all really incredible!

      My biggest suggestion on what to look for, actually, would be to look for someone with a really flexible attitude, who isn’t going to be offended if you need to ask them to lighten the pressure, or even to avoid certain types of strokes or parts of your body all together.

      I’ve been through a bunch of massage therapists myself, and now I just have one that I work with. At this point, she’s left the original massage studio I first found her at, and I’ve followed her to two different places– that is how much I believe in her. She will never get offended if I tell her the pressure is too much, and is always able to find a way to be more gentle.

      I do not let her touch the area above my SI joints at all– my joints are so hypermobile that, even now, I know it could cause them to move out of alignment. There are some things I just don’t play around with. However, I’m able to get by with massage to other parts of my body, and just regular stretching for the muscles around the SI joints themselves. (For example, the knee to chest stretch: https://sijointsaga.com/2017/11/16/glute-stretch/

      I actually have a post up on massage, for more info. Let me know if you have any more questions! https://sijointsaga.com/2017/10/16/massage-sacroiliac-joint/

    • Hi Rebekah, thank you so much for the kind words (although I’m sorry to hear you’re in the same boat as me!).

      Oops– I have written a Part 6– I just forgot to update this post. Here’s the link: https://sunlightinwinter.com/2017/10/18/chronic-pain-doctor/

      As you may have seen, I’ve experimented with writing about my story from different angles on my blog. My series “Calming Your Nervous System” picks up shortly after Part 6 ends. It takes you through the time when, I finally discovered the approach that really helped me, pain neurophysiology education.

      So if you haven’t seen it yet, here is a link to Part 1 of that series: https://sunlightinwinter.com/2013/04/18/physical-therapy-fibromyalgia/

      Hopefully this isn’t confusing for people– it was hard to write about this stuff, so it didn’t necessarily come out in chronological order!

      And thank you again for the comment! It means a lot to know my writing is helping people!

  2. Looking forward to Part 6! Just caught up with the previous ones. Very interested to hear your story as I have developed central sensitisation myself xx

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