A few weeks ago, I wrote about a problem I was having with longstanding pain throughout my body. Most notably, I had been dealing with a searing pain in my shoulder and a general feeling of tightness, tension, and dull aching around my neck, my shoulders, and throughout my back.
My therapist suggested I find ways to take care of myself that involved being cared for by others. Things like massage, chiropractic care, etc. I got suggestions from readers to include spa days and ayurveda and osteopathic medicine into my routine.
So, I started to see a chiropractor and in our first meeting, he reassured me that there wasn’t anything structurally wrong with me–my spine was OK–but there was an obvious amount of tension in my neck and shoulders, and it was also quite obviously focused on the left side where I felt most of the pain. He gave me a first adjustment and some exercises to try at home, and I left feeling okay–not great, not healed, but a little better than I did when I walked in the door.
And so, I kept looking for things that could help. Between my searches for different healing services in my area and other ideas about managing pain online, I came across some articles about a chronic pain app. Most of the writers, some sponsored and some not, claimed that the app had the key to unlocking the brain’s power to heal pain without medicine or expensive treatments. The app’s name is Curable.
I promise this isn’t a sponsored post. I don’t have enough “clout” or whatever to do that. I don’t really like when blogs do that, though I understand why they do. This is simply me, a person with longstanding chronic muscle pain who is sitting here amazed by the fact that, for almost two weeks, my pain has been 90% alleviated. It’s simply not there. The pain, the tenseness, the tight shoulders, the anxiety and frustration and disappointment with my body… it’s gone.
What muscle pain I do feel is probably more attributable to strain from exercise or slouching in my chair. My chiropractor, after only three sessions, said that there has been a marked improvement in both the tension in my shoulders, as well as a more symmetrical feel to muscles on both sides of my body. He has already put me on a more spaced-out schedule, stating that my progress means I can see him every other week instead of weekly.
I won’t go into much detail about the app itself, except to say that it uses science-backed brain activities, educational content, meditation, and expressive writing to help you change the way you relate to your experience of pain. It does cost money–about the same as 2-3 co-pays at the doctor, in exchange for a full year of access–and it just… it works.
It works, friends. It feels like magic, but if anything, it just helps to uncover the magic that is your own brain, in the most obvious but overlooked ways.
Yes, it works. Rather, it helps you work. It helps your brain do the work to heal. It helps you understand how your thoughts about pain change your experience of it. It sounds obvious, sure, but even I–someone in school learning to use these types of cognitive reframing techniques–have found it to be remarkably eye-opening and quite honestly, it’s changed a lot about how I understand the root of my own pain. Parts of it have been emotionally difficult. But that’s what I’ve really loved most.
What’s most beautiful to me about this process is not only the fact that my pain is almost all gone, but that what I’ve learned so far about physical pain, I can also apply to the experience of mental and emotional pain. What I know now about taking control over the experience of pain in my body, I can apply to feelings of sadness, anger, hurt, fear, and shame. Because physical pain registers in the same part of the brain as emotional pain, I now understand more fully how my thoughts, attitudes, and perceptions of pain can literally change how much pain I feel in my body.
I’m not 100% cured, but I don’t think that’s the point. Pain is a part of being human. Pain is part of what binds us. At this point in my life, I’m in a prime position to be overcome by my pain if I allow it. I’ve got physical, emotional, and mental demands upon me that are quite unrelenting. If I think too much about it, it quickly becomes overwhelming. But I’m really happy to say that some part of me has been unlocked–my ability to reframe my experiences as simply that: experiences. Without judgment, without anger or fear or anticipation of the worst possible outcome, I can view my pain (all of it) as just another part of this human life.
Keeping in mind that this is NOT a sponsored post, I would still encourage anyone who has been dealing with chronic pain to take a look at Curable. You’ll get a free trial and can decide after a few lessons if it’s something you want to pursue. The app creators claim their product can help with both chronic muscle pain as well as migraines.
Til next time