In this video about persistent pain & the sympathetic nervous system, I cover 3 things:

✅  What happens when our body gets stuck in fight, flight, freeze mode? When the sympathetic part of our nervous system is “stuck on”.

✅  Why does this often cause persistent and recurrent pain?

✅ What is the pain cycle?


Rather read the blog?

Here it is…

Why does this so often result in persistent, recurrent physical pain, and other health issues?

Hello and welcome. I’m Sarah Gowans from BlossomingMe and the Healthy Learning Lounge. Here we are a sanctuary where you can nurture your journey to health, wellbeing, and a positive mindset. To clear the stresses stopping you from living your most fulfilling life. 

What happens in the system to cause this recurrent pain is across multiple levels? When your body enters the fight, flight, freeze mode in the sympathetic part of your nervous system, your muscles become tight and constricted. And they remain in that state. If you’re in that mode for a prolonged period, that can lead to stiffness and restricted movement. And when it’s prolonged, it can also increase our perception of the pain that you feel. So you perceive that pain even more acutely, more intensely, and more persistently. It can even feel like your nerves are stuck, as well as your muscles.

restricted blood flow and increased inflammation

Inflammation and persistent pain

That whole process can lead to inflammation. When your muscles get tight and restricted, that can reduce the blood flow. When that happens, blood is restricted and can’t move well through our body. That can also lead to inflammation. That can increase the sensitivity of your nerves and your whole nervous system. Inflammation can also re-trigger the whole pain cycle. Setting the whole thing off again, at times leaving you in agonising pain.

Impact on Healing

Pain can impair and reduce your ability and efficiency to heal, because everything is too tight. It’s restricted, and the healing cells, things like white blood cells, can’t get to where they’re needed to be. That slows things down. Delaying your recovery from injuries and potentially further increasing your sensitivity to pain. As well as how long you feel that pain for.

Nerve Pathways and the sympathetic nervous system

When you’re stuck in this fight, flight, freeze mode, it can also have a neurological effect. The next step in that pain cycle. So your neurological pathways can become stuck, just like your muscles can become stuck and stiff. So can your nerves. If you keep travelling that same mental track, that can turn your neurological pathways into big, strong highways of thought. Speeding you back towards the pain, again. This increases your pain sensitivity. And as these highways get bigger and stronger, they get used more. And because they get used more, they get bigger and stronger. So it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. One that you need to break to step out of your sympathetic nervous system. The fight, flight, freeze mode. 


Central Nervous System

The next thing that happens in this cycle of pain is that because these neurological highways are so well built now, they’re so strong. Your central nervous system becomes hypersensitive to the pain signals. They can respond even when the stimulus is very low. Even to mild stimulus. And it’s not just the nerves in our brain, in our mind. It’s throughout your whole body, your entire nervous system. So, it becomes then not just about fixing the injury itself. The tight neck, or the tight lower back muscles, or wherever your injury is. It’s about switching out of your sympathetic nervous system, and into the parasympathetic nervous system. Because while you’re stuck in that sympathetic fight, flight, freeze mode, your pain-sensitising mechanisms are amplified. Going back to your neurological pathways, that can turn the pathways into highways even more so, with this persistent, recurrent nerve pathway activation. That will ensure your pain is also felt recurrently, recurringly, and persistently. 

Psychological Factors

Psychological factors then, things like anxiety or fear, even the anticipation of pain, can take you back into the activation of your sympathetic nervous system. Re-triggering again, that pain cycle. So even emotions, such as these, can increase your perception and experience of the pain that you feel. 

The Pain Cycle

So the pain cycle then involves tight muscles, which increase our perception of the pain. This can lead to inflammation, which has a flow on effect on our blood flow. Reducing your blood flow impedes your body’s ability to heal. Further, the pain cycle keeps us locked out of the parasympathetic nervous system. Also called our rest and digest mode, and the rest and repair mode of your nervous system. So when you’re stuck in this fight, fight, freeze mode, the sympathetic part of your nervous system, you’re locked out of this rest and repair mode. So the body is actually unable to prioritise healing itself. Further delaying our healing, and potentially increasing our recurrent pain issues. Making stepping out of your sympathetic nervous system, and into your parasympathetic nervous system, fundamental to help step out of these recurrent pain issues.

Find this valuable?

So thank you for joining me here today, at BlossomingMe and the Healthy Learning Lounge. 

If you did found value in today’s video, please like it, and share it.

And join us next time, to find out what you can do if you’re feeling like you may be stuck in this fight, flight, freeze mode, of your nervous system.


Sarah xx


ps. To help you even more, I’ve written a “Chronic Pain Guidebook”, to help you better understand and reduce YOUR chronic pain NOW.

Would you like a copy?

Author: Sarah Gowans

About Blossoming Me

BlossomingMe offers a fully integrated approach to your wellbeing. Located on Sydney’s Upper North Shore. Sarah is our Cranio-sacral and Remedial Massage Therapist and health and lifestyle coach. She can help relieve those problematic knots, tightness and other specific ailments to promote a healthy recovery. These complementary massage therapies can be combined to suit your needs, and include: craniosacral therapy, shiatsu, acupressure, reiki, remedial, swedish, and body-mind-massage. 

Our qualified Osteopath, Alexis, offers a drug free, minimally invasive, “hands on” treatment focusing on the musculoskeletal system with its associated muscles, tendons, ligaments, membranes, bones and joints. Alexis takes a functional approach. This means that she focuses on the way a component (body part, tissue or group of tissues) performs its role, as well as the way the body works, performs and integrates as a whole. Our team can support you to improve your posture and therefore your overall health.

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**Disclaimer** The information provided by BlossomingMe, on our website, in our courses, and in our blogs and posts, is for educational and informational purposes only. The information provided on this site and social outlets is not, nor intended to be, a substitute for professional advice or care. Please seek the advice of a qualified health professional before you make any changes to your health regime, before dealing with new symptoms, and, if something you have read here has raised any questions or concerns regarding your situation.