Healing Chronic Pain: How To Listen To Your Bodies’ Messages With Dr. Andrea Moore

Have you been dealing with chronic pain with no accurate medical diagnosis? Perhaps the cause of your discomfort runs much deeper than you think. In this episode, Dr. Andrea Moore shares how she’s helped her clients heal their chronic pain by addressing their underlying traumas. Having experienced this herself, Andrea found ways to fix what was wrong. After years of education, self-healing & working with 100s of women, she learned that it is always about coming back to yourself and listening to your body that allows you to live the life of your dreams. She chats with host Rosie Zilinskas about how she guides other women suffering from chronic pain back to their bodies & living in a way that is aligned with the truest version of themselves. Make sure to tune in and learn how to start listening to your body and heal the pain from within.

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Healing Chronic Pain: How To Listen To Your Bodies’ Messages With Dr. Andrea Moore

We are going to have a little different conversation around chronic pain and talk about why chronic pain shows up in your body when you have unresolved emotional issues. When you are in the corporate world, sometimes you may have an accumulation of different life issues or you could have something like emotional unresolved trauma from whenever you were a child or earlier in your life.

 

I thought it would be a good idea for us to talk about this because if you are in the corporate world and you have chronic pain, then you may need to call in sick, depending on what type of job you have. If you are calling in sick and you don’t get paid, then that’s going to impact you. We are going to have a guest. This is going to be Dr. Andrea Moore.

 

She’s going to be talking to us about how chronic pain manifests in your body. Dr. Andrea Moore is a mom, wife, and recovering health perfectionist. Along her fifteen-plus year journey, she became a Doctor of Physical Therapy, an orthopedic certified specialist, a functional nutritional therapist, a life coach, and a patriarchy and perfectionism smasher.

 

Through years of education, self-healing, and working with hundreds of women, she learned that it is always about coming back to yourself to live the life of your dreams. She now guides other women who are suffering from chronic pain back to their bodies and living in a way that is aligned with the truest version of themselves. This is going to be an interesting conversation because sometimes, you don’t know why you are in pain and don’t associate it with the emotional state of your body and your soul. You associate it with the body specifically but sometimes, it doesn’t even have to do with the body. With that, stay tuned for my conversation with Dr. Andrea Moore.

Andrea, thank you so much for being here on the show. You work with people that have chronic pain, and we talked before. When you say that you want people to be connected with their aligned selves, what do you mean by that?

 

First of all, thank you so much for having me here. It’s such a delight, and what a great question to kick things off with. We feel like we hear that term thrown around a lot, and what does it even mean? Everybody has a different way that their authentic wisdom, their true self or their inner guidance, whatever you want to call it, is like, “What resonates with you, you get to use.” Everyone is presented themselves differently but it’s about knowing what is right for where you are in your life right here and right now in terms of what’s the next action to take.

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Chronic Pain: It’s about knowing what is right for where you are in your life right here and right now in terms of what’s the next action to take.

 

It’s this deep gut knowing like, “This is what I need to do for my body, or this is the next decision to make.” Sometimes it’s this expansiveness, open feeling, or a little voice that appears. What it’s going to be like for everybody is a little different. Can we start to live by that versus by what we think we should be doing, by what society is telling us to do, what our parents expected us to do, or what our friends, coworkers or bosses want us to do? Can we live by our true selves versus external factors?

 

We are talking primarily to women in the corporate world on our show. We are such people pleasers. As a mom, I know you are a mom and a wife, a lot of times, our roles are that we take care of everybody else and then we are the last ones that take care of ourselves. I like the fact that you are saying it’s whatever. It’s for you, not for your husband or your kids. I think of that analogy of you are flying, and then the turbulence comes on, and then you have to make sure that you put the air mask on yourself before you can help anybody else. That’s the same type of analogy.

 

Now we know that women in corporate are stretched very thin. They have a full-time job which most people do or are entrepreneurs. They might be full-time entrepreneurs. You have to take care of your family, your finances, your home, and yourself and try to exercise. A lot of times, that stress and all of the to-do list come out through your body, and then your body starts talking to you.

 

Our bodies communicate with us from the very beginning. As kids, often that communication it’s not nurtured. We don’t know to start listening to it. Oftentimes we get messages, and it’s unintentional. No parent is trying to shut down their child. It’s like an inner voice and guidance. It happens because that’s what we are taught. From the moment a child falls, they are crying, and their parent is like, “You are okay. Finish your plate or don’t go to the bathroom now. You need to wait until later.”

 

There are all these things that happen that the child might be hearing a message from their body, and that message gets shut down, and there’s no intentional nurturing that we have of that guidance. It’s not like there’s a balance like, “Now we can nurture and listen to it.” When do we learn how to do that? Never. Our bodies have this beautiful communication with us but it gets lost. Even if we have it, it almost gets told that we are wrong for having it.

Our bodies have this beautiful communication with us, but it gets lost. And even if we have it, it almost gets told that we're wrong for having it. – Dr. Andrea Moore Click To Tweet

In school, if you need to go to the bathroom but it’s not bathroom time, you are not allowed. It’s like, “Something is wrong. My body is telling me this but this is telling me I’m not allowed.” It becomes a conflicting, confusing thing that we have when we stop listening. Our bodies can only communicate with us in so many ways. If it has been whispering to you or trying to get your attention like, “I need rest. I need to be nurtured. I need to be cared for.” It keeps getting ignored, no matter the reason. Good reasons that sometimes it does. It’s irrelevant. At one point, it’s going to be like, “Here’s how I can get you to stop through pain.”

 

Once you get to the pain, your body has been, like you said, whispering. I love that whispering. It’s the little aches and pains. When you are in massive chronic pain, it has been talking to you, and you haven’t been listening because you are busy working to take care of your house, your family or whatever. What are some specific messages that the body is trying to tell us?

 

What I want to emphasize before I answer it is, one, chronic pain is complex. There can be other reasons for it other than what we are going to be talking about but what we are talking about always does have some application to chronic pain. There always is an extra emotional attachment, things that come along with chronic pain. The other thing I was going to say is that what your body is trying to tell you differs from person to person. What I teach is how to listen to your body so you can hear the message your body is sending. The common ones though, because there are some common ones like, “You are not doing what you were meant to do in this life. You’ve gone so far astray of your passions or your desires and what was meant for you.”

 

Another common message is, “I need to rest. I need to be cared for, nourished, and given a break.” Sometimes, it might be, and this is not as common for those in the corporate world but it could be. If we have almost shut down our lives and shrunken them, this can be what happens when chronic pains are going on for a while. Life gets small. It’s like, “I can only do the very bare minimum.” Sometimes the pain is that your soul is yearning for a more full human experience. The messages can feel contradictory at times or they could be telling 1 pain and 1 person versus another pain, another person. One might be saying, “Go take action,” the other might say, “Rest.”

 

There is no one right message. The last thing is that because your body is sending a message doesn’t mean you need to take action on what it’s telling you. The one other message that’s common, especially for women and for women in powerful roles is, “This is not safe. What you are doing is not safe,” because historically, women in power are not safe to be a woman in power.

 

Your body might be freaking out, “You’ve got a promotion. Now you are going to be seen and heard. You are in charge of people. That’s not safe. I’m going to get you out of this by putting you in pain. Let me protect you from the herds of men coming at you with spears,” or whatever your body is holding onto, which doesn’t apply anymore. Those are the messages that we want to hear, understand, and see with compassion but then we have to update our system to be like, “It is safe.”

 

I got that visual of a woman executive or a CEO that does step into that big role, and now it’s like, “What did I get myself into?” That’s the message that you are saying that you don’t feel safe. I love you reframing that to, “You are okay. You are safe. Nobody is going to come and spear your head off or anything,” which is so interesting. You said that sometimes you get a message from your body and don’t have to take action. If you are not taking action, then what are you doing?

 

What I meant by that is, let’s say you are getting the message from your body or you are listening in. You are stepping that exact vision that you did, and the message is like, “Stop what you are doing.” Often that might come in the form of Imposter syndrome. “You don’t know what you are talking about. What are you thinking?” Like Brené Brown, “You are too big for your britches,” type of. It’s coming in through that message. We don’t want to be like, “You are right, body. I shouldn’t be doing this.” We want to listen to it. The way I often make the analogy is like a child.

 

If your child is coming to you and he’s like, “There’s a monster in my bed. It’s terrifying,” you are not like, “What the hell is wrong with you? There are no monsters. How stupid can you be? Get over yourself.” It’s not helpful, not how we talk to our children and how we want to talk to our pain. We also don’t want to be like, “You are safe. You are fine.” Your kid was like, “Mom doesn’t see the monsters. Now I’m in danger because she’s not seeing the danger that I’m seeing.” They are going to double down on their fear because not only there’s a monster under their bed but their parents or the people who are responsible for their safety aren’t seeing the threat they are in.

 

We want to listen to our pain like a child. That’s getting down at their level of being like, “You are scared. That is terrifying. If you think that there’s a monster under your bed, let’s go check this out together. Let’s together solve this. I got you. I’m going to keep you safe but let’s explore and not run away from it.” Help them see like, “There are no monsters under the bed, and maybe we have special monster spray.” Maybe we have a few extra tools we use to help them be like, “I am safe.” It’s with compassion. It’s with understanding. It’s not belittling or making fun of them that’s going to get them to shift.

We want to listen to our pain like we would a child. – Dr. Andrea Moore Click To Tweet

I love that, and I know this author. Her name is Laura DiBenedetto, and she has a book called The Six Habits. In her book, she talks about you having that parenting persona within yourself, and what you are saying is to talk to yourself as if you were your parent of yourself. I can see your demeanor. You are very compassionate and kind.

 

I can tell that you talk to a lot of people because that compassion comes through. I love that about you. Now, women in the corporate world, specifically, are working full-time. If they have this chronic pain, what are some things that you typically work with or recommend to your clients whenever you encounter a situation like that?

 

The very first step when it comes to working with chronic pain is getting clearer on the reason behind it. Often, we are given the message. People go to the doctor, and they are like, “My back hurts. My neck hurts.” Often but not always the doctor says, “Rest. Take some meds. Stop doing what you are doing.” What we start hearing is this message of, “Something’s gone wrong. There’s an injury, and I need to stop moving.” The truth is that when your pain has been around for more than six months, no matter the original cause, even if there was an initial injury, it takes about three months, maybe a little bit more, with a big case of tissue damage to heal.

 

Past 3 to 6 months, we are now talking about pain that originates from a nervous system level, not from the tissues themselves. It’s not from the muscles, the ligaments, the joints or things like that. Even if it feels like, “What are you talking about? My pain is right in my knee.” Getting clear on the reason is important. If someone is trying to enter the work that I’m talking about, and they are like, “There’s an injury. I’m going to hurt myself more,” we are not going to be able to enter this more emotionally. We won’t be able to hear the deeper message. One, get that cleared. I don’t usually tell people like, “Have you been to more than three practitioners?”

 

You are hearing very different responses. Maybe one person is like, “It’s because you are meniscus,” and someone else is like, “It’s because you have tight muscles,” and someone is like, “It’s because of XYZ.” Nothing is fine. Chances are you are fine. It’s not a physical cause. I could do an entire episode on like, “How to know if it is more mind-body type of pain versus pain that needs to go to a physical therapist or a practitioner.”

 

Chances are if you have been to a practitioner, there’s nothing more you can do or they are telling you to rest, one that’s neither as good advice. It’s the reality. It’s either you are actively working on something with someone you trust or it’s a mind-body pain. Especially if no one can figure out what’s wrong or you’ve had treatment. Let’s say there is something that someone can find on a scan but it’s not responding. Again it has this mind-body component.

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Chronic Pain: It’s probably mind-body pain, especially if no one can figure out what’s wrong or you’ve had treatment, and there is something that someone can find on a scan, but it’s not responding.

 

To me, that explains why you feel this chronic pain, and emotionally it’s taxing. Your body is hurting, and you are going to all these doctors, and nobody is able to tell you why. You start questioning yourself, which goes into my next question about women that have chronic pain not stepping into their true selves or sometimes are not seen or acknowledged at work. That’s what we talked about a little bit. When they are not stepping into their true selves, is that the emotional peace that you are talking about?

 

It can be one of the components. There’s always so much but sometimes it’s a buildup of each time you’ve suppressed your true self or it’s gotten suppressed. It can also be childhood trauma that’s ready to be healed is another thing. If you are someone who’s listening and you feel like you got to this point where things were going well, and then this chronic pain came out of nowhere. Their finally now safety to look at what hasn’t been looked at in the past.

 

That’s huge right there. Let’s say you had trauma when you were young, and now, you are happily married like newly married, and things are good but all of a sudden you get sick. You are thinking it’s recent but it could be from your childhood trauma that is now coming out. I’m curious and don’t know if you know the answer. Do you feel that childhood trauma typically pops up somewhere in your life?

 

Yes, absolutely. Anything that’s happening before the age of seven is it’s getting wired into our system. It’s wiring in how we are viewing the world. Often, we are viewing the world through a lens of whatever is happening. If your home isn’t safe, we view the world through a lens of it’s not safe. If we fear not having enough food, scarcity or lack mentality can be showing up. It does wire through.

Anything that's happening before the age of seven especially is getting wired into our system and it's wiring in how we view the world. – Dr. Andrea Moore Click To Tweet

Now the thing that I want to say is that it’s not a sentence to be stuck with, though, if there’s some narrative like, “You had trauma. You are stuck with it,” it’s like, “No, not at all.” It’s something that’s asking to be healed and looked at with curiosity, love, and compassion, which wasn’t available when you were a child. You get to do it now as an adult.

 

That’s powerful in that it’s not a sentence. It’s not something that you have to deal with. You can heal it. What are maybe 1 or 2 examples of a client that has had a similar situation where now they are an adult, and this chronic pain is coming up, and they have identified that it’s because of childhood trauma? Is that something that you can help with or do they go to a talk therapist? How would that work for you?

 

It is something that I can help with. It is helpful. It’s not a requirement but most clients that I have seen that have a lot of childhood trauma have been to talk therapy. There is something that is important about trauma processing, where we need to tell our story and have it heard. Telling your story and having it heard it is not going to process the trauma.

 

Often what happens with talk therapy is if we stay in talk therapy and never move to the next level, we get stuck in the telling and the cognitive level. If you can tell your story and it’s emotionless, like, “This is what happened to me, and when I was a child, I was sexually abused,” it further dissociates it. Now that each retelling further dissociates it and not processing it. You are never working through. It’s cycling.

 

With the work I do, it’s bringing it into the body and letting the body process it through somatic work that’s getting clear of where it is living in your body. What does it need? What is it trying to say? A lot of times, it’s checking in on how old we can have these protective parts that we are five years old. We want to help to update these parts to learn that we are older now, that we have resources, that we have a level of safety and that it takes working with this part, almost like I talk about them as parts.

 

It’s almost like you pull it out as a separate child that you are working with or a separate whatever it’s presenting as. It doesn’t have to be present as a child. You asked for a client example. I did have a client who did have a lot of sexual abuse as a child and a lot of violence in her home, so her body is in this constant state of tension and hypervigilance.

 

It is waiting for the next attack. Rightly so, that’s going to create chronic pain if your body is tense all the time, constantly hypervigilant, waiting for the next attack, which you might not even realize. If you’ve lived with that all your life, often you don’t even realize that you are constantly tense. When you go to the massage therapist, and they are like, “Your muscles are hard as rocky.”

 

You are like, “I’m relaxed.” They are like, “Relax,” and you are like, “I am,” that’s a sign that you are living. That’s me, to be fair. I didn’t even have anything like that from my childhood, and my body was in a state of tension and I was like, “I am relaxed.” My arms are in the air. It’s all we know. It’s all you know and has known for 27 years. We have been working with her, and someone I’m still seeing is helping these younger parts. These parts are protective. When you are young to brace for an attack, there’s protection to it. To numb out to dissociation is protective.

 

It’s what you need to survive through childhood. These parts get stuck thinking that they are still six years old, that they are still dependent on the adults in their life that aren’t reliable to provide them the care or they have to continue to figure out how to people please so they can get food or whatever. It might be care. It doesn’t have to be some extreme trauma. It can be emotional, not even neglect. It’s just a lack of awareness of emotions that is what it is a lot of times.

 

Once we can help these parts like bring them out, help them understand what they are holding onto, what they are protecting from, and compassionately, slowly, gently help update them to like, “Look around. We are an adult now,” they get to go be a kid again. That part gets to let go and be like, “This five-year-old part doesn’t have to be the one that feels like it’s protecting you.” That’s a big job for a five-year-old. A five-year-old shouldn’t have that job. We work through, release that job from that part, and let it know that we are here to take care of it. We are adults now. In your mind’s eye, it gets to go play, then. It’s, however, you want to work through this, and that’s a process, guide through, and whatnot.

 

That’s so interesting. That’s one of the reasons why people, as adults, act as that hurt little five-year-old. Not to bash men but a lot of men have that situation because they are not as good at dealing with their emotions as women. We have that one, either a sister or a soul sister that you can say everything to. When you say whatever is happening in your life, at least for me, it releases it, and then it’s not that big of a deal.

 

I have one friend of mine. We get together every 2 or 3 weeks and meet at 9:00 AM. It’s noon, and we are like, “We are tucked out. We are good.” It’s almost like therapy because we support each other, and we have that amazing intimacy where we are helping each other decipher, “That makes sense. No, you are wrong, he’s wrong, or they are.” That’s very therapeutic. Men generally don’t have those heart-to-hearts with other men or people. You always hear this comment, which is generic, “He’s a narcissist, and he still acts like a kid,” that kind of situation.

 

Women can make themselves small with this chronic pain, especially in the corporate world, because they may not be taken seriously by their male counterparts. When you think about a woman in the corporate world and for me, my mission is to try to eradicate the gender gap so that women can continue to advance in their corporate careers. What would you say to a woman that has chronic pain that maybe has that emotional thing going on or they may not even recognize it, and it’s coming out in the corporate world as not being seen or not being acknowledged?

 

It’s helpful to take a step back and see how you can become an outside observer of your own life. Let’s say there was a meeting, and you were like, ‘I wasn’t hurt. I was taught right,” and you are feeling like that. If you imagine there was a movie camera, and you were watching it, get analytical about it before we go woo-woo inwards.

NWB 38 | Chronic Pain
Chronic Pain: Sometimes, it’s really helpful to take a step back and see how you can become an outside observer of your own life.

 

I’m a big fan of combining the two of what did happen. There are some times when we misinterpret a situation where there is a guy who interrupted you and everyone. It’s not even personal. He just interrupts everyone, men and women, and it’s like, “It isn’t even about me. It means nothing about me.” There might be a time when you are like, “My ideas weren’t heard. No one acknowledged them.” When you look at it, you are like, “I didn’t say my ideas.”

 

We are saying it in our head, maybe we tried but it didn’t come out. There might be a time when you did say your idea, and it is getting blown over and not being paid. It’s first being like, “What is happening?” If you have a trusted co-worker in a situation like that to bounce that off of, and that’s not going to be a possibility but that is always helpful because sometimes we can’t see things for ourselves. It is hard to take that third-party observer. The action that you would take would depend on like, “What are the cold hard facts here?”

 

I like that you said, “Look at it from an objective perspective.” My husband reads my blog, and he has been in laughing when he hears me say this. A lot of times, we will be having a dialogue, and I’m like, “You said this,” and he said, “I never said those words. Where are you getting that? You are making up stuff in your head? This is what I said.” When I look at it, I’m like, “You are right.” Now I’m trying to be better about, “You said this but this is what I heard. Is that what you meant?” He says, “Just ask me.”

 

It’s such a beautiful practice. Acknowledging that we all do. Nothing is gone wrong. It’s how the brain works. The brain is going to see things through a certain lens. Asking that question of like, “This is what I heard,” and then we can get curious about like, “What lens was I wearing?” That’s the lens through which we talk about childhood trauma or something that happened. That’s what puts a default lens on us, whether its perfectionism or the world is, “People are out to get me or I’m not heard.”

The brain's always going to see things through a certain lens. – Dr. Andrea Moore Click To Tweet

My son’s teacher sent me a message, and I had such an emotional reaction. It was triggered in my system. I don’t know how to respond was sitting on this for hours and was like, “I can’t believe she said this.” I was talking to my husband. We were having this whole conversation about it, and then I went back to it. I was like, “This is how I’m going to reply.” Before I replied, thank God I did this, I reread the message.

 

I was like, “It’s not what she said at all,” not even what she said. I was like, “I saw it wrong. My brain does that because that’s my lens. I thought she was isolating my child, and it was something that triggered a lot in me. It did because it made sense of whatever, and it’s like, “Now we can address this.” It’s not like judging ourselves for doing that in the first place. We all are humans with human experiences and human brains.

 

That goes along with the point of it depends on the mood you are in. My husband and I can have the same conversation, and if I’m in a good mood, I respond one way. If I’m in a bad mood, I respond a different way. For people, as practice when you get an email like that, especially in the corporate world, is to pause and wait a day before you respond because the emotions get dissipated. Like you can go back and reread it, and you are like, “That’s not what she meant at all.”

 

The other point that I was thinking about is this maybe you don’t have an emotional trigger but you procrastinate to address something and then you have all this suffering, all this dread, and I’m going to have to have this conversation. That, to me, is more painful and suffering. When you have the conversation, you avoid all of that pain and suffering. That has happened to me, whether it’s with my kids or my husband. I’m like, man, “If I had addressed it a week ago, all those thoughts would not have taken up space in my head. I’ve made myself suffer or have anxiety for all that time for no reason.” It was a non-issue.

 

I do that all the time too. This is huge. What creates procrastination is having a lens of perfectionism of things and perfectionism both in ourselves but also this perfectionism about what the outcome should be and this heavy attachment to the outcome. Ultimately, you can’t control the outcome of a conversation. We procrastinate because we deep down know that we can’t control it or that we are worried that we might not be the outcome we want. We procrastinate, we delay having it, and we often depend on procrastination.

NWB 38 | Chronic Pain
Chronic Pain: You can’t control the outcome of a conversation. We procrastinate because deep down we know that we can’t control it or that we’re worried that it might not be the outcome we want.

 

If you are someone who finds yourself procrastinating a lot, especially when it comes to showing up, maybe asking for a promotion, having a tough conversation with a co-worker or you have a good idea, and it’s presenting it. When we are procrastinating things like that, oftentimes, it can be a degree of freeze response because we are putting ourselves out there. We are asking ourselves to get vulnerable if that doesn’t feel safe to the system. It’s like, “I’m going to procrastinate doing it. I don’t want to be seen. I don’t want to be heard.”

 

As far as chronic pain, sending a message so that women can empower themselves so that they don’t hold back, how do they do that?

 

The big thing is making it a practice to start to nurture that connection between your mind and your body. Your mind and your authentic self, whichever way you want to look at it. Oftentimes there is a message. We have something we want to say. If you are working in the corporate world, you have important things that you want to get done. You are doing it for a reason.

 

I’m assuming the women reading this love their jobs and have things that they want to accomplish. They have big ambitions and dreams. When we can keep checking in with our body of like, “Am I on the right path?” Am I saying what needs to be said?” Letting our body talk back and following that guidance is going to empower us. It’s going to increase your confidence in what you have to say as well.

 

You are a Doctor of Physical Therapy. You, yourself, are very accomplished. You did orthopedics and functional nutritional therapists like coaching. How did you hone in on the chronic pain, having that emotional and physical component? How did you get here with your education in your career?

 

In physical therapy school, I graduated in 2011. It wasn’t talked about. We briefly discussed chronic pain like, “Go out. Treat patients.” I started getting all these patients on my schedule, especially women who did not fit the textbook at all. It didn’t make sense. They weren’t responding as they were, “should have responded.” You test out their muscles and look at their range like everything looked fine or if it didn’t, then they didn’t respond to the treatments that should have been treated effectively. We could be working on strengthening, and their muscles wouldn’t strengthen. It’s like, “What the heck?”

 

It doesn’t add up, not to mention their pain would yell over the place. It would d be inconsistent, and I myself also was having chronic pain during this time, and mine also was not responding to traditional physical therapy. I’m having a crisis here. Pretty much before I even graduated like, “What am I doing in this profession that I can’t even help myself?” I was lucky enough.

 

I worked at an amazing holistic clinic and pursued a residency program in orthopedics, and within that program, we started learning a lot more nuance of chronic pain and how it is all chronic pain. One hundred percent of chronic pain is due to nervous system sensitization. No matter the original cause, even if there was an injury, chronic pain past the six-month mark is always going to have nervous system sensitization as what’s creating the pain itself.

100% of chronic pain is due to nervous system sensitization. – Dr. Andrea Moore Click To Tweet

We learned that, and that was drilled into my head. It was something that interested me. I kept learning more about it. I have to keep taking continuing my education. I was fascinated by it. I was getting people on my schedule that I had pain for 40, 30 or 20 years. I started asking the question of like, “We know it’s nervous system sensitization,” and at that time, it was like, “Tell people it’s nervous system sensitization, and they don’t have to worry about further injuring themselves, and you are good to go.” I was like, “That was not doing it.”

 

The people are like, “Cool. I’m still terrified and hurt. There’s got to be something more. What creates the nervous system? Why do some nervous systems get sensitized while others don’t?” I was curious about that. I went through the nutritional therapy, and life coaching route and all of this is alongside my own story and my patients. It was when I finally found the somatic world of connecting to our nervous system and realized it was possible to rewire your nervous system and decrease the nervous system sensitization through working with the nervous system. These linked perfectly together.

 

I learned about all the somatic work that I learned. The trauma work had nothing to do with chronic pain. I was able to link it all because of everything that I already knew. Everything I learned about chronic pain kept coming back to, “It’s because of nervous system sensitization, and that’s it,” and then everything from the other world was like, “This creates nervous system sensitization.” They use different words but I was like, “That’s that. There, we put these two and bridged them perfectly together. Why is no one else seeing this bridge?” That’s a long story.

 

That’s fascinating how you were able to connect those. You are right. Doctors or traditional doctors, physicians, typically put a Band-Aid on you and give you a pill and send you on your way. The thing that a lot of people are wondering now is who’s responsible then for finding the route cause. We, as individuals, know that we are responsible for our health. Even when we reach out, the doctors keep saying, “There’s nothing wrong with you,” but I still feel more pain. I have heard someone that’s very close to me that had chronic pain, and sometimes they almost feel like, “Do people believe me?” You say it all the time, “I don’t feel well.”

 

After a while, it’s like, “Do you really not feeling well?” That’s what people think. When someone is in pain, they are in pain. Especially at work, in the corporate world, if you have chronic pain and you have to call off, call in sick or whatever, that’s going to show up a little bit more too. Calling off costs money. If you don’t get paid or don’t show up for work, that will cost you money. Medications and going to doctors, all that stuff costs you money. If you are a woman in this situation and want to work with you, Dr. Andrea, how do they work with you?

 

I work both one-on-one and have a group program. In my group program, I take people through all of these steps and processes and how to listen to your body, and how to get the safety in your body to even listen in the first place. It can feel intimidating to listen to your body. If anybody’s ever tried to meditate or do anything like that, they are like, “My mind races.” That was me too, and that’s all my clients. This is a different way of listening in. It’s not sitting in silence that can feel scary for the body. It’s through my group program, and if you need extra one-on-one coaching, that is something that I offer for people that are in my group program. They have all of the tools and resources.

 

You also have podcasts.

 

Yes. There are tons of information in the podcast. It’s called Unweaving Chronic Pain. I never remember which episodes are which but some of my more recent episodes, maybe my early 40s episodes. I have a couple that is on the medical community and why doctors do treat pain the way they do and why there is a lot of gaslighting that happens. Ultimately, your primary care physician doesn’t know this stuff.

 

They aren’t taught that. They are not trying to be a jerk when they are like, “There’s nothing we can do.” They aren’t taught what to do. They don’t know this. It’s a gap in their knowledge. If you aren’t getting the support you need, often going to a doctor to doctor with a different specialty to specialty isn’t going to give it to you. It’s simply not being taught unless they have gone out and done this research for themselves and worked with chronic pain and talked about how they do treat the root cause. Chances are a gap in knowledge. A lot of it is advocating for yourself, which becomes extra hard when you are already in pain to begin with.

NWB 38 | Chronic Pain
Chronic Pain: A lot of it is advocating for yourself, which just becomes extra hard when you’re already in pain to begin with.

 

It’s hard enough when you are healthy and advocating for yourself. Let alone being in chronic pain all the time. I am going to recommend your show to a few people that I know because this work is needed. Do you have any examples or any situations with your clients where you’ve identified an emotional trigger, and then the chronic pain dissipates? Does that happen?

 

Yes. All the time.

 

You are giving hope to people that their chronic pain can go away.

 

I have great results in chronic pain like dissipating. I always want to want to be careful about the way I speak to it like there’s a lot of quick-fix mentality in our world. While this work doesn’t have to take super long, there is work and intention that has to go into it. It is a journey. It is a willingness to go into some of the hard stuff. It’s not easy work to face some of the things that are deep underneath, which is why we numb out and avoid them. It’s easier to sit back and watch Netflix. I love to do it too than to be like, “What deep emotional trauma haven’t I investigated?”

 

We do this work in small doses. I was having this conversation with a client, “The point of this work is not to live in it. The point of this work is to do it in little bits of what you need so you can live your life exactly how you want.” We don’t need to perfectly heal everything. There’s no perfectionism around this work. It’s what needs to be released. All of this starts to build up in our system, and our body can’t hold anymore. It’s like, “Where can we start letting some stuff go,” and sometimes having it be seen, heard, and validated is enough.

 

I want to say a comment about the doing the work thing. My one friend who I meet every 2 or 3 weeks, has always been into self-development. I met her way back in 1993. At the time, I started having problems with the relationship that I had, and she would say to me, “You got to do the work, Rosie.” I was like, “What work are you talking about? I have no clue what you are talking about.” At that time, I didn’t know about self-development or all the work that I do now. I had no idea what it was back then, and now when we all like, “I got to do the work. It’s such a different mindset.” My point to that is that people may not know that there’s work to be done in this situation.

 

With chronic pain, which is why I’m so delighted to be on a show like this, is that oftentimes, since we are told so many times, there’s nothing that can be done. Stop squatting. Stop running. Don’t bend over anymore. Don’t do things that your body needs what it needs and is designed to do. We are just told that that’s our only option. We don’t know that there’s something that can be done. How would you know? I’m here to tell you that there is so much that can be done if you want to get back to moving or feeling good in your body. It is 100% possible.

 

Do you think this work applies to someone that has sleep issues?

 

Yes. It’s funny because while my work is centered around chronic pain, there’s something special about the clients I see with chronic pain who are these high-achieving mission-driven women. I see this connection, which goes back to what I said earlier. There’s a lot of fear in our system for being such a woman whose voice is being heard. I see that theme a lot. With my clients and within my program, we don’t talk about the pain that much. It ends up being about all the other stuff.

 

I had a client. She had pain but sleep was a huge issue. It’s like through our work. She was sleeping through the night. When your system is hypervigilance, it’s hard to get a good night’s rest when your body is like, “I’m going to be attacked at any moment.” These are all unconscious thoughts. Logically, we know we are safe. You can be like, “I have my alarm system going. I’m safe in bed,” whatever. If your subconscious doesn’t feel safe, it doesn’t matter. You can’t out logic your subconscious.

 

“You can’t out logic your subconscious.” That’s definitely a quote there. To be clear, do you work with both men and women?

 

Yes. It’s funny. In my program, there are only women but a smaller program, and there was one man in it. I don’t limit it to women. I’ve worked with men in the past. I naturally tend to attract women but truly, there’s no requirement to be a woman to work with me. All are welcome.

 

That goes back to the fact that women are more willing to explore their emotions versus men. Men traditionally are like, “Let me fix it for you.” My husband and I have had that conversation many times. I tell him something, and he gets into problem-solving. I’m like, “You don’t need to fix it for me. I’m just talking to you. Stop fixing my problem.”

 

Now they have my problems.

 

Now he knows. He’s like, “Do you want me to tell you what I think.” We are getting better. This conversation has been fantastic, and I love the work that you are doing. Are there any two concrete tips that you can leave with the readers as to what they could do if they were in a situation like the one we have been talking about?

 

I want to come back to the outside observer of start getting curious without judging yourself, no judgment. It’s like, “That’s fascinating that this happened. What could it be? What if my pain was emotional? What could it be?” Letting your body just put it out there but there’s pure curiosity and compassion, without the judgment peace, which can be the hard part sometimes. It’s like asking yourself a different question. If you’ve noticed that, if you feel your pain has always been like, “I’m stuck. I’m limited.” It’s like, “What if it could be different? What if I could heal this? What would life be like if I could explore this?”

 

You are just playing around and seeing what comes. You don’t even have to do anything you hear. It’s thrown out a different question, and then the second tip is to start checking in with yourself more throughout the day. A great time can be after you go to the bathroom, wash your hands, take a little extra time, and maybe go for the full 30 seconds you are supposedly doing.

 

I’m going to guess that if you are in the corporate world, you are like, “I got to get back to work.” Let’s be honest, most people don’t, and it’s not even for the sake of germs but while you are washing your hands, even if it’s only feeling the water on your hands of feeling what it feels like to touch your own skin, of taking that moment to be like, “Let me breathe. Hi, I’m here.”

 

If there’s a mirror there and checking in like, “What am I feeling now?” It might be like, “I’m feeling super stressed, and I am super stressed.” Not even making any need for action or to do anything different is like, “Fascinating. Now I’m super stressed.” Letting it be. We have so many attachments to like, “What if I check in and then I have to do this and this? I got to solve it all.”

 

I vividly remember when we were all in the offices. We are all remote but I’m at my desk and was like, “I have to go to the bathroom.” I have to do one more thing like, “I have to stop, go to the bathroom,” and as I’m washing my hands, I was doing exactly what you were doing. “I go to make this phone call. I got to go to this meeting, and then I have to leave at 4:30 to go pick up my kids.” We are often not in the present moment but just washing your hands and being intentional about paying attention to feeling the water or the soap. I am going to put that into my practice.

 

I love that you even mentioned the whole of like, “One more thing before I go to the bathroom.” Another great thing is when you feel the urge to pee, go pee. I have to remind myself of this one all the time. I’m the queen of not doing that myself.

 

It’s ridiculous. It’s like, “One more thing, I have one more meeting.” We often say it all the time because we have meetings back-to-back, and someone is like, “I have to take two minutes to take a bio break.”

 

After a while, you start to realize your schedule is so set up that you don’t have time to pee in it. It’s a problem. It’s incompatible with taking care of our bodies.

 

This conversation has been wonderful. I would like to give you the opportunity to leave our readers with any final thoughts.

 

If you are experiencing chronic pain, it doesn’t have to be like this. If you are feeling constantly stressed and frazzled, and then on top of it, you have fear and anxiety about what the pain is going to mean for your future, what if that could be an invitation to something different? What if the very presence of that chronic pain, the thing that you were not a fan of, is an invitation from your body to get to know it a little better and to check in with yourself?

 

What if the very presence of that chronic pain, probably the thing that you were not a fan of, is actually just an invitation from your body to just get to know it a little better and to check in with yourself. – Dr. Andrea Moore Click To Tweet

Dr. Andrea, thank you so much for being here with us. This was fabulous. I appreciate your time.

 

This was fun. Thank you so much.

I have to acknowledge that Dr. Andrea Moore is such a compassionate doctor. You can tell right away that she is very gentle, compassionate, and an amazing human being. I’ve only met her for about an hour and a half or so, but you can tell. Some of the things that I got out of our conversation is that our bodies communicate with us from day one, and it’s how we socialize that quiets those messages down.

 

Another thing is that our bodies whisper messages to us throughout our life. If you don’t listen, your body is going to start screaming at you, and that’s going to be when that chronic pain comes up. Those are the couple of things that I took away from our conversation. Another thing we were talking about was women going into an executive role or a C-Suite role.

 

Women traditionally are not leaders from way back when, and sometimes you, as women, going into that role think, “What did I get myself into? It’s not safe,” that’s the looser brain of thousands of years ago. You have to reframe that message to say, “It is safe. I can do this. It is okay.” With that, Dr. Andrea left us with two tips. The first one, she said, “Become an outside Observer. Get curious about your pain without judgment,” so use curiosity and compassion like, “Why would I be feeling that?” You have to go inward a little bit.

 

Tip number two, she says, “Start checking in with yourself throughout the day.” The good time to check in is after going to the bathroom, and you are washing your hands. Feel the water, the warm water running in your hand. Feel your skin, one hand touching the other hand, and be in the moment and breathe. I am going to implement them in my practice. It’s so important for us to be present.

 

Our bodies are talking to us. If you feel the need to talk to somebody, Dr. Andrea is kind and generous. She is gifting us and the readers, a complimentary 45-minute consultation. If you are in a state of chronic pain, I urge you to take her gift and allow your story to be witnessed and receive clarity and the next best steps to take on your healing journey. Again, that is wonderful, fabulous, and so generous of her. She’s also on Instagram. I followed her on Instagram. That’s cool. Lots of good stuff with this conversation. With that, as always, remember to be brave, bold, and take action.

 

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About Dr. Andrea Moore

NWB 38 | Chronic PainAndrea Moore is a mom, wife, and recovering health perfectionist. Her career path has been based on trying to fix everything wrong with her: from chronic pain & post-concussive syndrome to anxiety & ADHD. While she refused to accept this as her norm, trying to implement what she thought was necessary to alleviate her symptoms felt exhausting, restricting & impossible.

Along her 15+ year journey, she became a Doctor of Physical Therapy, an Orthopedic Certified Specialist, a Functional Nutritional Therapist, a Life Coach, and patriarchy & perfectionism smasher. Through years of education, self-healing & working with 100s of women, she learned that it is always about coming back to yourself in order to live the life of your dreams. So she now guides other women who are suffering from chronic pain back to their bodies & living in a way that is aligned with the truest version of themselves.