Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME)
Chronic pain syndromes
Neuro- relating to the brain and nervous system
Somatic- The word "Somatic" comes from the Greek word "Soma" which means the living body structure, movement, breath, sensations, emotions.
Repatterning - As we go through life we develop mind, brain, body patterns in response to life experiences. Even though our brain/body is doing its best to help us function, these patterns may be dysfunctional, ridged, and inefficient. In the context of this approach re-training refers to releasing, re-organizing, and rebalancing leading to higher levels of integration, flexibility, and resilience.
NSR integrates both "top down" (mind/body) and "bottom up" (body/mind) approaches to re-educate the brain and nervous system.
The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)- an important piece in the treatment of chronic health conditions and pain syndromes
The ANS is the part of the nervous system that is NOT under conscious control. It consists of the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches.
The ANS controls most of the body’s involuntary processes, including, digestion, circulation, respiration, and metabolism. It also is responsible for our fight/flight/freeze responses. When the ANS becomes imbalanced it can create many chronic problems resulting in many symptoms.
The ANS is the master controller of the body's metabolism, hormone production, immune system, and emotions.
Dysautonomia - is a term used to describe dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. It is typically used as a term for certain illnesses including Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy(RSD) and POTS.
However, some researchers and clinicians believe that Dysautonomia may be a contributing factor with many other chronic illnesses including: Fibromyalgia, Anxiety, MCS, PTSD, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME, CFS). ANS imbalance may also be related to many other conditions and symptoms including:
Post Concussion syndrome
High/low Blood Pressure
**It is important to always see a medical doctor to address any medical conditions and symptoms. Symptoms may be a sign of serious illness.
Article on Dysautonomia (click here)
Stress, trauma, and the ANS
There are many sources of stress and trauma including: emotional, psychological, physical, chemical, viral, and bacterial that have an impact on optimal brain function. This can overload the nervous system and put it in a chronic state of autonomic nervous system imbalance that can result in many chronic health problems and physical/ emotional symptoms. This can sensitize an area of the brain called the limbic system which keeps the brain stuck in a state of "fight/ flight/freeze", keeping the body from regenerating.
Many chronic illnesses, physical and emotional symptoms, pain syndromes, and addictions are a result of or exacerbated by an autonomic nervous system imbalance due to physical and emotional trauma, excessive stress, surgery, toxic exposure, viruses, bacteria, and alcohol/drug abuse resulting in an overactive survival instinct. (fight/flight/freeze response). This wreaks havoc on all of the systems of the body resulting in a multitude of symptoms. When the nervous system is imbalanced due to trauma it keeps the body's systems from functioning properly.
The Power of Neuroplasticity:
The good news is that our brain and nervous system is more malleable then was previously thought. We can rewire our brain and learn to balance our nervous system through the power of neuroplasticity.
In Dr. Norman Doidge's new book, "The Brain's Way of Healing" , he describes how the mind and body can become partners in healing the brain. He gives examples of how body based approaches can help rewire the brain.
Neuro Somatic Re-patterning integrates manual therapy/bodywork, brain exercises, and mind/body practices to help clients release chronic tension, balance the autonomic nervous system, and rewire the brain by addressing the following:
- Structural/physical restrictions (cranial, fascial, visceral, muscular neural) can affect the functioning of the brain and nervous system. Structural restrictions in the tissues, organs, nerves, and membranes can put mechanical strains on the body and brain keeping the nervous system in a chronic state of activation making it difficult to recover. NSR utilizes techniques from craniosacral therapy, myofascial release, visceral and neural manipulation to facilitate structural balance o optimize nervous system functioning.
- Undissipated stress energy and inertia from trauma/stress that is trapped in the body keeping the nervous system in a chronic state of dysregulation Stressful and traumatic events can become "trapped" in the nervous system if not dissipated or released. Peter Levine PhD, a trauma expert, explains how this happens in his book "Waking the Tiger". This can sensitize the brain keeping a person in a constant state of sympathetic arousal. This keeps the body on high alert and does not allow for recovery. Somatic experiencing and bodywork helps to safely discharge trapped energy from the nervous system.
- Brain - Limbic system sensitization (limbic kindling, distorted sensory perception, hyperactive amygdala). When the brain becomes sensitized, it begins to perceive and interpret internal and external stimuli as a threat. This creates a chronic state of vigilance creating imbalance in the ANS. Body awareness exercises, brain training, and mind/body practices helps rewire these pathways.
- Vagus Nerve Dysfunction- the vagus nerve is our 10th cranial nerve and has both parasympathertic and sympathetic functions. It is the longest nerve of the ANS and influences the heart, lungs and digestive tract. It can be become restricted in the diaphragm, thorax, neck, and occiput creating ANS dysfunction. The vagus nerve can also become functionally disrupted from excessive stress, physical/ emotional trauma and excessive sympathetic (fight, flight, freeze) activation. There are many ways to increase vagal tone, which acts as a regulator or brake for excessive sympathetic (fight/flight) reactions. Using the principles and practices of Stephen Porges Polyvagal theory with manual therapy and brain/body practices we can rest the vagus nerve.
- Postural imbalances- from physical and emotional stress can create mechanical strain and stress on the ANS, which can restrict breathing, disrupt physiology, and put pressure on nerves. Body awareness processes and manual therapy help free up mechanical restrictions as well as re-educate the body/mind for improved posture.
- Neuro-Emotional Stress - There is a growing body of evidence that supports the concept that pain and ANS dysfunctions may develop as a result of unexpressed emotions. This may cause a "bracing" or "tightening up" on an unconscious level, which causes the muscles to contract and tighten, putting pressure on pain sensitive structures, creating many bizarre symptoms of pain, weakness, neuropathy, nervousness, irritability, and loss of motion. Dr. John Sarno, a medical doctor from the Rusk institute in New York, is a pioneer in mind/body pain relief. His book "Healing Back Pain" as helped shed light on how emotions can cause the muscles to tighten outside of our awareness resulting in many types of pain syndromes, neuropathies, and chronic functional disorders.
- Body Awareness- Often people who suffer from chronic pain and chronic health conditions have a poor sense of body awareness. They are either feeling too much or they are disconnected/dissociated. Bodywork and body awareness processes helps facilitate embodiment and integration.
Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as diagnosis, treatment or prescription for any disease or illness. The decision to use, or not to use, any of this information is the sole responsibility of the reader. Always consult with a licensed health care practitioner when dealing with a disease, illness, or health condition.
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