Words Really Do Hurt and Can Activate a Pain Response

Words Really Do Hurt and Can Activate a Pain Response

One of the main functions of my job is helping people overcome chronic musculoskeletal pain, improve their posture and enhance their athletic performance.  When it comes to pain, I truly believe that our words and thoughts directly impact our ability to heal and be well.  


I read a great article posted on WebMD called, Words Really Do Hurt.


The article discusses recent research which supports the theory that words alone may activate a pain response in the brain.

The Power of the Spoken Word is not to be taken lightly.  Researchers found that people with chronic pain disorders who tend to speak a lot about their painful experiences with their health care providers may intensify the activity of the pain matrix in the brain and intensify the pain experience.


Don't I know it!


As a practicing Christian this is a fundamental belief I personally believe (Out of the heart the mouth speaks - Luke 6:45) but the power of the spoken word on our behavior also transcends psychology (looking glass self) and sociology (self-fulfilling prophecy) as well.


Long story short, I believe that words when internalized really do hurt and establish our resulting behaviors!  For years, I have worked with clients to help them identify the power of words, and how their thoughts and words affect their pain and ability to heal.


The body is a store house for our words, memories and emotions.  My job as a Corrective Exercise Specialist  is to:

  1. Listen to you the client without judgment or placing a word value on your ability to heal and get well.  You know more about what's going on than any health expert in any field.  I'm here to LISTEN!
  2. Identify the root cause of your pain (your position (posture) vs. your condition)
  3. Address the compensations and dysfunctions at the major load joints
  4. Design a corrective exercise program and develop smart goals
  5. Teach the client how to re-align and restore their body back towards its blue-print design.

GREAT!  But....  If the client continues on with negative or destructive thought patterns like:


  • "I can't do that it will hurt" 
  • "My body doesn't tolerate bending, lifting, squatting, running...... because it hurts my knees, my back, my shoulders......"
  • "I was just born this way"....
  • "I have my mother's (insert body part/pain)"
  • "I will just have to learn to live with pain, it's the card I've been dealt"...


Hmm.., I wonder why we still hurt and can't really ever get better.


When we constantly meditate and speak on our perceived abilities, and what our support structure (family, friends and loved ones) also speak over us, how are you supposed to overcome your pain problem?


One of the first things I have to address with clients (besides bringing balance to the body)  is the power of words, and what the client and his/her support community speaks out loud.


We are more than our bodies.  We are mind and spirit, and what we think, believe, meditate upon, and speak over ourselves have a direct impact on our health!


One of my favorite authors on the subject, Pete Egoscue states "Pain is not a disease, not an injury, not even an effect of aging.  Pain is a [treatable] symptom".


As we work to restore the body, we also work to restore the mind and the spirit!  In addition to the five steps listed above, postural therapy is highly successful because we help our clients change their

  1. Thoughts
  2. Actions
  3. Habits


So we start by restoring the body, and bringing balance to one area, which when combined with an active effort of changing our thoughts on healing can affect the other two.  Ultimately however, it comes down to the individual CHOOSING to think clean, think health, think restoration and then put it into practice.

A fantastic resource I recommend is Dr. Caroline Leaf's book called "Who Switched off my Brain"?  Dr. Leaf discuss how 87% to 95% of the illness that people deal with today are a direct result of thought life.  What we think about (dwell upon) affects us physically and emotionally.  It's all connected.


The book not only discusses the why, but provides a tool kit for change, or better said "how to bring thoughts into captivity".


  1. Understand that thoughts are real and have an actual anatomy
  2. Increase conscious awareness of your thoughts and how you are feeling
  3. Doing something once you have analyzed the thought
  4. Building new memories over the old


It's a thrill for me to see that science is now validating what what I personally know to be true.  Words are connected to the pain experience.  I'd love to hear what you think, so post a comment or send me a direct message.