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Medical Trauma & Chronic Pain

Overcoming the physical and psychological impact of medical trauma & unresolved pain

Giving Birth

What Is Medical Trauma: Most people think of trauma as one-time events like a disaster or childhood abuse but the effects of medical trauma can be just as detrimental and can even impact ones future ability to heal.

Medical trauma refers to the psychological and physiological response to a negative or traumatic experience in a medical setting which ca include procedures (i.e. surgeries), new diagnoses (autoimmune disease or cancer) .  This can involve an illness, injury, pain, invasive procedure, surgery, and/or a distressing or dismissive medical experience.

What Causes Medical Trauma: Medical Trauma can affect both children and adults. Common experiences include medical events (heart attack or spinal cord injury) or procedures (broken leg as a child, cesarean birth, or any surgery requiring anesthesia).

There can be may different types of events that could cause medical trauma, but the one thing that is often shared these experiences is that there is often a perceived threat to life as a result of an event or interaction.

  • Medical Events:  Specific medical events such as birth complications, surgical procedure, being on dialysis, procedures involving anesthesia, intensive care unit stays, or experiencing other childhood complications where medical intervention were necessary can all contribute to medical trauma. Especially individuals who survive a life-threatening medical event, injury, or illness.

  • Prolonged Healing and Pain Following Surgeries/Recovery: Sometimes even after the injury healing period is over, pain and discomfort with movement can still persist. This can continue to cause undue stress on the nervous system, poor healing responses, and emotional frustration often making daily activities more challenging.

  • Negative Healthcare Encounter:​ In some instances, previous therapy or medical care could have been unsuccessful causing a prolonging of discomfort and unforeseen complications that lead to making it difficult knowing who to trust when continuing to seek the appropriate help. In other cases, high costs of treatments or out of pocket expenses despite having insurance to do the work you needed done.

  • Birth: Up to 45% of new mothers report experiencing birthing trauma.  This can affect the mother in multiple ways ranging from depression, autonomic nervous system dysfunction, triggering events with birthdays, difficulty with child rearing, and even future decision to have children. Women whom have experienced sexual abuse are also more prone to medical trauma

    • Emergency C-Section​

    • Obstetric Violence

    • Infant in newborn intensive care unit

  • Surgeries Under Anesthesia: General anesthesia uses a combination of medications that render the body immobile and unconscious as it enters into deeper levels than normal sleep. These temporarily paralyzing states share many common threads as how the body responds to intense and ongoing stress that often result in "freezing" and "shut-down" the nervous system. Often this behavior is necessary during high levels of threat however in some cases symptoms can still present even after procedures and adequate healing time is given.

    • Throat pain or voice problems​

    • Autonomic nervous system dysfunction

    • Hyperactivity in nervous system

    • Sense of nausea and dizziness

    • Digestion problems

    • Dry Mouth

    • Shivering or chills

    • Muscle aches that are not consistent

  • Autoimmune Disease & Cancer: With an illness or disease that results from challenges in the bod's immune system response, it is not uncommon to deal with post traumatic stress symptoms. Autoimmunity and cancer often create difficult and challenging circumstances for patients. Especially if there is worry about side effects with medication, treatments, or a condition returning.

  • Heart Attacks: One study showed that 8% of heart attack survivors will develop post-traumatic stress symptoms following their cardiac event. 

  • Intensive Care Unit:  Any stay at a ICU can be particularly traumatizing.  It is suggested that 25% of those who survive ICU experiences will develop post-traumatic stress symptoms.

  • COVID-19 & Long COVID: If you were infected with COVID-19, you may still be dealing with new chronic systems that affect one or more of you or your child's muscular, circulatory, immune, and/or nervous systems. These symptoms could be confusing to medical professionals and frustrating to deal with alone on a regular basis given the complexity of the virus. These newer symptoms can also be difficult to manage and as a result may make exercise difficult due to fear of worsening symptoms. In other cases, there may have been required changes in work, relationships, and other social behaviors. Some of changes in your body as a result of COVID could include things like:

    • Post-exertional malaise

    • brain fog​

    • chronic fatigue

    • dizziness

    • gastrointestinal problems

    • heart palpitations

    • issues with sexual desire or capacity

    • loss of smell or taste

    • thirst 

    • chronic cough

    • chest pain 

    • abnormal movements

    • retained reflexes​​


Symptoms of Medical Trauma: Symptoms vary depending on the child or individual and there is no current set of true symptoms. In many cases however, a significant deviation in ones physical or behavioral health following a specific major event, procedure, or interaction may suggest the presence of medical trauma. 

Examples of symptoms can include:

  • Muscle stiffness or Tightness

  • Muscle twitches (especially before falling asleep)

  • Chronic Pain

  • Anxiety

  • Avoidance of certain movements, sensations, and other stimuli

  • Depression

  • Digestion issues

  • Emotional numbing

  • Exaggerated startle response

  • Fearfulness

  • Hypersensitivity and Hypervigilance

  • Intense emotional responses

  • Helplessness or Hopelessness

  • Intrusive thoughts nightmares

  • Difficulty sleeping

What Causes Chronic Pain: In some cases it is obvious the cause of chronic pain, such as in cases of cancer or long lasting illness, however, for other cases this can occur due to inadequate integration of an injury or surgery.

Following illnesses, surgeries, and injuries, your body may develop high levels of sensitivities to different movements, sensations, and pain. These changes in the body's nervous system are generally normal and are used to help provide protection and information to help guide integration. But when hypersensitivity and symptoms persists long after what is considered normal healing time for an injury, this can cause certain responses to occur that may lead to chronic pain. In cases like this, the body can look healed, tests can be negative, but the perception of pain can still very much present with symptoms of chronicity. All of which, are real.

Neurological Symptoms of Chronic Pain we help treat: 

  • Aching

  • Burning

  • Shooting

  • Squeezing

  • Tension

  • Stinging 

  • Throbbing

  • Pins and Needles

  • Numbness​


How we work with medical trauma & chronic pain: We work through a polyvagal lens that lets your body act as our guide when we address both medical trauma and chronic pain. We believe strongly the body knows how to best organize itself for optimal healing and we work closely with this intelligence of the body.


We will work closely with you to understand ALL of your history and try to find exactly where challenges began to arise for your body. We will then provide you with the appropriate neuroplasticity techniques and treatments to help your mind and body shift into states that will help better integrate and transform pain.  

In cases where chronic pain has been on going for years or even decades, newer research using concepts of neuroplasticity is promising showing now that changes in perception are possible through the use of multisensory based approaches. So we do not limit our tools to movement, we use all of your strengths and working senses to help you successfully rebuild.  We will help you to develop unique and creative ways to do just this.

Specifically we use the following components to help develop successful programs specifically to help you tackle chronic pain: 

  • Polyvagal Training: Identifying Triggers

  • Safe & Sound Protocol (acoustic vagal nerve stimulation)

  • Pain & Symptom Management

  • Sleep & Recovery Schedule

  • Anti-inflammatory and Nutritional Recommendations

  • Fascia Health, Tissue Renewal, and Hydration

  • Breathwork & Mindfulness

  • Rebalancing of Nervous System Through Neurogenic Tremoring

  • Calming & Strengthening Vagus Nerve

  • Vestibular System & Functional Vision Reorganization

  • Neuroplasticity Training

  • Muscular Strength Building

  • Cardiovascular Endurance & Resilience

  • Work Space Set Up & Work Efficiency 

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