Trauma and pain: Why do my muscles hurt?

Every person’s experience with trauma and shock is different. The trauma can be from emotional stress (that we may have thought was manageable at the time), or physical pain, such as a car accident or even a basic general operation.


Then, after the trauma, you have the reaction or after-effects to the trauma. What many people do not realise is that this post-traumatic effect can be very delayed, very mild but persistent or can be just a physical pain alone as well as emotional pain.

What are the physical symptoms of trauma?

The physical reaction from post-trauma to the body can manifest in many different ways. The most common reactions are:

  • long-term muscle pain
  • stiffness
  • hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • spasmodic muscles
  • inflammatory joint pain

The ‘locked in’ effect of these ailments are just the brain and the body's way of trying to protect itself from the trauma. But, this can last so long that we often assume that our bodies have accumulated these symptoms due to age. Some people may even end up with a diagnosis such as Fibromyalgia. Quite often the original trauma is dismissed or forgotten.

Despite this feeling of bodily hopelessness, it can be possible to reverse the physical symptoms of chronic muscle and joint pain. The brain will often tell us, for example, that we can't hold our arm up in the air because it hurts our shoulder. So we don’t do it, which then actually exacerbates the symptoms.

So the brain thinks, "OK, the pain is worse, so I definitely will not move my arm now!" When all along, the muscles (and the brain) need coaching, very gently into painless mobility until it thinks the shoulder is fixed.

What can help?

Yoga-stretch-massage or otherwise known as traditional Thai massage is the perfect way to treat this issue. Especially in the western world where practitioners have to also be trained thoroughly in anatomy and human movement. So, with gentle assisted movement and massage from the Thai massage practitioner, success is often achieved.

The massage combines gentle massaging, assisted stretching and acupressure therapy all with the client warm and comfortable, in their full stretchy clothing, which takes place on a soft floor futon. With trust from the client and, more importantly, patience, gentle manipulation and careful communication from the practitioner, the results can be very effective.

Movement of the whole body is key. Once the brain is reminded that the human body can feel better, it stays feeling better.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Therapy Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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