Stedmann’s Medical Dictionary for the Health Professions and Nursing defines psychogenic pain, or psychalgia, as pain that is associated or correlated with a psychological, emotional, or behavioral stimulus.
Some of the most common types of psychogenic pain, that commonly accompanies or is induced by social rejection, unexpressed emotional conflicts, stress, grief, or psychosocial problems, are headache, back pain, and stomach pain.
Some medical professional and others don’t think psychogenic pain is real; however, the International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage. Many people report pain in the absence of tissue damage or any likely cause; this usually happens for psychological reasons. There is usually no way to distinguish their experience from that due to tissue damage if we take the subjective report in the same way as pain caused by tissue damage; it should be accepted as pain. It remains controversial; however, that chronic pain might arise purely from emotional causes.
There is no sensation or emotion that is not translated into a muscular response of some kind; these feeling states are the primary bases of our habitual postures and our individual patterns of behavior.
Bodywork, by using tactile input, can actually re-educate and re-program the organism into becoming more coordinated, more flexible, and more appropriately responsive—literally more ‘intelligent’. A body/mind system that is integrated in this fashion will be more able to resist depression or disease, more able to attend to and repair itself in times of stress or injury. A Handbook for Bodywork – Job’s Bodywork, Deane Juhan
Recent scientific research has begun to indicate that positive emotions such as gratitude, compassion, and love have beneficial effects on health. They do so by strengthening and enhancing the immune system, which enables the body to resist disease and recover more quickly from illness through the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, into the bloodstream.
Clinical massage and bodywork are among several options for effectively treating psychogenic pain. I treat it the same as chronic pain: After initial evaluation, I utilize a multi-modality approach based on soft-tissue and structural balancing, tailored to the client’s specific needs, using a system that helps me quickly identify the key areas of pain and dysfunction, addressing specific muscle imbalances and dysfunctional patterns that are usually the cause of their discomfort.
Integrating several treatment modalities gives me the opportunity to treat a more diverse range of clientele in an individualized manner, including chronic pain and psychalgia.