Pain getting you down?

Pain and our emotional state have a close relationship, with numerous studies demonstrating a higher incidence of depression in those suffering from chronic pain, than the general population.

Sometimes, ongoing pain is caused by a problem with the muscles, joints, nerves or discs (mechanical pain) and depression/emotional upset occurs as a result. However there are also times when our emotional state and nervous system can give rise to pain in the absence of a mechanical problem. I’m sure most us are familiar with the sayings:

  • a pain in the neck
  • a pain in the butt
  • a weight on my shoulders
  • it’s my Achilles heel
  • I feel hamstrung

Where do you think these came from?

While it’s common for mechanical pain and emotional pain to interact and coexist, one usually predominates.

If you have an ongoing pain complaint the first step is to identify whether it’s primarily mechanical pain or emotional pain.

If your pain is mechanical then your emotional response to it will be eliminated when the physical problem has been successfully treated.

If your pain is primarily emotional, identifying your emotional triggers and working through these, will be much more effective.

At times the line between mechanical and emotional pain can get a little blurry, leaving those suffering from ongoing pain in an uncertain place. In fact, you may not even realise that your pain and emotional upset are related.

Following a logical plan will help you get to the source of your problem.

Step 1.
A thorough mechanical assessment
In my opinion, this is best achieved by seeing a qualified   McKenzie method practitioner. The McKenzie method, otherwise known as MDT or Mechanical Diagnosis & Therapy, employs a unique set of questions in combination with thorough a series of repeated movements to identify whether  pain is of a mechanical nature or not.

MDT is an advanced area of training available to health    professionals who already hold a degree in health science.

For more on MDT visit or

Step 2.
When it’s emotional pain and the triggers are too overwhelming to deal with on your own or through talking to friends/family, you may need more skilled help.

Contact the Australian Psychology Society and ask for a psychologist who specialises in helping people deal with pain.

Please feel free to share this with anyone you know who experiences back problems.