Is our pain in our heads?

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Pamela Neckpain
Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2008
Total Posts : 1821
   Posted 1/5/2009 1:12 AM (GMT -6)   
Could this Chronic Pain of mine be psychosomatic? You know ... in my head? Not
real and caused by stress, anxiety and depression. Could it? I've got lots of
"proof" that my pain exists. No doctors doubt it but still ... I'm better when I'm
eating Butter Brickle Icecream or Coconut cake. (Or have some other strong

I'll be back to get this answer in a few days. Hopefully someone will read it and respond.
I'm currently house moving and will be unplugged.


Osteoarthritis all levels of spine right down to Coccyx,Spondilytis,Myofascial Pain
Fibromyalgia,Bulging Discs,Spinal Stenosis,Scoliosis,Osteopenia,Chronic Constipation
Carpel Tunel Syndrome, Attention Deficit Disorder,
Depression & Anxiety

Methadone for Pain, Xanax for Anxiety, and more, of course.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jul 2008
Total Posts : 1560
   Posted 1/5/2009 4:03 AM (GMT -6)   
Interesting question Pam. I for on don't think that our pain is in our heads. How I was explained the pain that we feel but the doctors cannot find inside of us is this; my pain is caused by the nerves that are compressed deep inside my back but also because I have a lot of scar tissue that the doctors cannot see is causing pressure against my nerves and this is more likely with most patients who have have back surgery. With your conditions its probably connected with the bulging discs...scoliosis, or some other disease that you have causing your pain. You aren't having very good luck with doctors it seems and I would find a doctor that was more compassionate and could find a reason for your pain IMO.

Anyway, have a pain free day.

HEALTH ISSUES: Herniated discs at S-1-L5, L5-L4, L4-L3. Two level fusion (2000); one level fusion (2002); Revision at L4-L3 (2003). Slight herniation at L2-3 but Neurosurgeons will not operate because of previous failed surgeries. Diagnosed with Failed Back Syndrome, Permanent Nerve damage and Chronic Pain


Kadian, Lexipro, Percocet, Lunista, Topamax and Robaxin.

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2006
Total Posts : 9664
   Posted 1/5/2009 10:37 AM (GMT -6)   
No Pain is not just "in your head" and who ever first said this should be "Fired"
I agree with Scarred, Please "never" and I mean "NEVER" let anyone tell ya it's just
"in your head", as it's just so demeaning to us. Pain Management Psychologist don't say this..
If they do then find out where they got their Licence, and report them.
Pain is real, Pam and we are here for you, so take a shoulder and get your soft hugz...
* Asthma, Allergies, Osteoarthritis, Spinal Stenosis, Degenative Disc, Fibromyalgia, Gerd, Enlarged Pituitary Gland
******** "We could never learn to be brave and patient if there were only joy in the world" from Helen Keller *********


New Member

Date Joined Jan 2009
Total Posts : 1
   Posted 1/5/2009 3:07 PM (GMT -6)   
I have had lots of doctors make it seem like I was crazy, always pushing antidepresants my way. When I finally gave in and too it, I realized a year latter, no, there really is some pain and it's not in my head. As much as I wish it was all in my head, unfortunately it was not. It takes alot of shopping around to find a doctor who is actually going to work with you.

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 16777
   Posted 1/5/2009 3:49 PM (GMT -6)   
Aw Pam, I thought you and hubby just moved into the place you are living at now??? What is going on gal??? Hugs Susie

Regular Member

Date Joined Oct 2005
Total Posts : 315
   Posted 1/5/2009 4:10 PM (GMT -6)   

Especially if you have evidence of what may be causing your pain, then it's definitely not in your head. I have heard that stress can cause pains, but the only pains stress ever caused me were tension headaches. Other than that, I also have evidence of problems in my spine which can explain, at least, my lower body symptoms. But in describing my neck, shoulder, and face symptoms to my PM, he told me of some other nerves those problems could be related to. And it's possible I might have the same thing going on in my neck as I did in my lumbar spine.

It's also possible that sometimes some distraction could make you focus less on whatever pain, so maybe it's possible with your ice cream, I don't know. My Rheum seems to be thinking all my nerve problems are fibromyalgia related, but I really doubt that. He doesn't even have my last MRI report, which can explain many of my low back problems. I think since I told him I didn't want a ton of lidocaine shots every time I go there anymore, it seems he's not too interested anymore. BTW, the lidocaine shots did absolutely nothing for me except to cause even more excruciating pain where the shots were injected. This was because I had severe spasms in those areas and having 10-12 needles stuck into those muscles is no picnic.

Anyway, I hardly think your pain is in your head from what I've read of your posts, so get that thinking out of year head.

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2008
Total Posts : 30
   Posted 1/5/2009 11:21 PM (GMT -6)   

If a doctor tells you it's all in your head please get a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th opinion. I fell hook line and sinker for this in a nasty workers compensation case when all the conservative treatment failed. It was "in my head" or it was "psychosomatic" a "psychophysiological issue." I was lured into this boat by a very cagey psychiatrist that sprinkled a little somatoform disorder to top it all off. My darn knee hurt and all I wanted was an MRI.

Pain is a subjective complaint, with it carries a burden to prove that you are in pain 24/7. Something that once was acute has now unfortunately become a chronic problem. The medical profession along with the civil judicial system will question your credibility pertaining to the frequency, duration and the symptoms that lead to these complaints. In short you are a liar when someone other than yourself is pulling the strings. I was led astray ignorantly for over a year and a half. Cognitive Behavorial Therapy. Hundreds if not thousands of hours of counseling and physical therapy. My legs hurting so bad I didn't know which one I should limp on. Endless sleepless nights questioning my sanity sleeping in a chair, not feeling my legs 90% of the time due to the numbness the last year. Paraplegia is a good thing other than the other 10% of the time which also was in my "head." Look into how psychiatry is now treating pain as the 6th sense.

Once the plug was pulled, 6 surgeries involving my legs, both knees getting reconstructions. (Actually according to 2 of MY Orthopedic Surgeons they both need Total Knee Replacements) Yes I have had several opinions since I'm the one footing the bill. L/5-S1 collapsed with a large osteophyte invading the spinal canal. Pain that I was led to believe was nothing but a figment of my imagination. There is no such thing as chronic pain, it's just a little boo boo. Trying to control blood pressure that was 168/102 w/pulse of 96 WITH BP medications, NEVER getting it under control. Now making it somewhat normal (116/71 w/pulse of 70) with pain medications? Losing the anxiety medications and depression medications? My age (45) leaving 3 surgeons not knowing where or even if to start? Boney growth (gravel) where my meniscus used to be leaving me bone on bone with joint space narrowing to the point of NO space. Bone fragments for cushions. My mind took control with the help of a VERY sharp psychiatrist. Not ethical but oh soooo much smarter than I. I will forever question authority. To answer the original question, "Can Chronic Pain be psychosomatic?" Yes...90 million people can't ALL be right! Sorry for the rant, not a lot a chair bound person can do.


Disabled individual learning to live life again no matter what chronic pain or other obstacles stand in the way. Opinionated and you no what they say about opinions. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is not guaranteed, and today is a gift, that's why it's called the "Present."

Veteran Member

Date Joined Mar 2008
Total Posts : 3089
   Posted 1/5/2009 11:25 PM (GMT -6)   
Hi Pamela,

Oh, honey, No, the pain is not in your head! Yes, stress can make your pain worse. Yes, most pain has a psychological component, but your pain is REAL. Real, physical pain. Just because we cannot see, or even really quantify pain, does not mean that it does not exist & you are not in pain! I struggled with this same question for a long time. Since I don't have a firm diagnosis & MRI's, etc have not shown much, as well as the fact that I have tried many meds & treatments without success, in the beginning I used to be terrified that everyone would "think it was in my head." And then the more I sat there thinking about it, the more I wondered if it really was in my head. But at the same time, I knew that it wasn't because I have physical symptoms, (for example, persisant swelling around my eye), which clearly show that there is so kind of problem, and I know my body & what I went through, etc.

The biggest help for me, to stop worrying about this, was when I first consulted my pcp about my pain, a year or two ago. I told him about my fears, and he was wonderful. I think I was practically in tears & he sat me down & had a long conversation with me about how it is NOT in my head & NOT to think that way. I've since had discussions with other physicians who have said similar things (because every once & I while I momentarily relapse & have this fear again, especially when I try multiple meds that don't help). I know that it is easy to think too much into this because of the way CP patients are often treated, as well as the fact that many people lack "evidence" showing their pain. But, pain is pain. It is a real thing. And even if the pain was psychosomatic (which, as I've said, I doubt it is), that doesn't make it any less real. So please try not to think this way. The only reason that you should have to say that the pain is "all in your head" is if you were describing the biological fact that pain signals are interpreted by your brain, and thus the brain "causes" us to feel all pain (therefore all pain, no matter where you feel it in the body, is technically "in your head"). scool



Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2005
Total Posts : 610
   Posted 1/6/2009 2:05 AM (GMT -6)   
I'm really not sure, after starting my Suboxone ALOT of the pain I had seemed to dissapear (not all of it), but then I read a thing on how pain medication can trick your mind into feeling more pain then there really is like that ice water test they did with people comes to mind. For those who dont know about it, it's when they took some people who took pain meds and some who didnt and stuck their hands in freezing ice water and the ones that wernt on meds could hold their hands in the water for 3 minutes and the ones who took the narcotics could only do it for 10 seconds. Then I went to a class at my nearby hospital for chronic pain and they said there where reports about how they did all these brain scans on people taking pain meds and how the meds trick the body into thinking they're in more pain then they really are and make them more sensitive to pain. So in other words I really wonder if the meds are tricking out brains into thinking we are in mroe pain then really excists in our body. So I think we are really in pain but the brain really can make it feel alot worse then it really is. But then again we all handle pain diffrently. After I had gallstones attacks for a year when I Was 15 with no doctors beleiving me and had to suffer that severe pain for a year made me vey very sensitive to pain, and then natural birth with no drugs at 16 years old, then pancreatitas, then the migraines started, yea...I really dont do go with any pain....
I have Migraines, Pancreatic Divisum, Severe lower back pain, Fibromyalgia, Asthma from Chronic Bronchitis
Meds: Suboxone 8mg 3xday, Cymbalta 60mg @ night,
Zanaflex 2-4 mg @ night as needed, Treximet as needed,
Ventolin Albuterol Inhaler as needed which seems to be everyday.
Been on Diability since I was 22 for Migraines and chronic Pancreatitas(started the processes when I was 19, I'm 25 now) but am working to get off of it ASAP,I want to be a nurse and work at a Impatient rehab with people with addictions of all kinds

Veteran Member

Date Joined Oct 2008
Total Posts : 1683
   Posted 1/6/2009 2:24 AM (GMT -6)   
Pamela Neckpain said...
Could this Chronic Pain of mine be psychosomatic? You know ... in my head? Not
real and caused by stress, anxiety and depression. Could it?
I dont know- but im grateful to know that im not the only person who has been made to feel like its "all in my head". its unfair and its hurtful.
Maz XX

            'He heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.' (Psalm 147:3)                  
Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, CFS, Fibromyalgia, TMJ disorder, Endometriosis, PCOS, Chronic E.N.T infections, Reactive Arthritis, GERD, Sinusitis, IBS,  Allergies, Glandular fever, Migraines, Anemia, Chemical/Noise/Light sensitivity, Trichotilomania, PTSD, Seasonal Mood  Disorder, OCD, Benign Vertigo,  Impaired immune system. Tachycardia, tinnitus, low clotting factor= bruising. Tendonitis, Bursitis.
Meds: Zoloft 150mg. Xanax 4mg. Celebrex. Mobic. Panadeine Forte. Digesic. Nexium.
Multiple surgeries- I bear the scars of my poor physical health.
Age:28. First diagnosed at 14. Proud Aussie.

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2008
Total Posts : 30
   Posted 1/6/2009 10:57 AM (GMT -6)   
Medications only block certain receptors in the brain, whether or not they are provided you can still psychologically convince yourself the pain IS NOT real. When a patient reaches this state of mind he/she can do irreversible damage. There is a disease, my mind escapes me now, that allows people feel no pain whatsoever. Hand on a red glowing burner pain. The "experts" will tell you this is why most chronic pain patients success rate is very low. That and the combination you cannot find 2 "experts" to agree on a specific regiment. Psycho-physiological diagnoses are a relatively new theory in medicine. The simple color of a pill can play tricks on "certain types" of patients. The abstract boils down to IDKS on your medical chart. I Don't Know S@#!.
Disabled individual learning to live life again no matter what chronic pain or other obstacles stand in the way. Opinionated and you no what they say about opinions. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is not guaranteed, and today is a gift, that's why it's called the "Present."

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