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 come to nurture your journey to health, wellbeing, and to 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. See when our body gets stuck in the fight, flight, freeze mode, the sympathetic part of our nervous system, our muscles get tight, and constricted, and they stay that way. If we’re in that mode for a prolonged period of time, that can lead to stiffness and restricted movement. And when it’s prolonged it can also increase our perception of the pain that we feel. So we perceive that pain even more acutely, more intensely, and more persistently. It can even feel like our nerves are stuck, as well as our muscles.

restricted blood flow and increased inflammation

Inflammation and persistent pain

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

Impact on Healing

That can impair and reduce our 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 our recovery from injuries and potentially further increasing our sensitivity to pain, as well as how long we feel that pain for.

Nerve Pathways and the sympathetic nervous system

When we’re stuck in this fight, flight, freeze mode, that can have a neurological effect as well. The next step in that pain cycle. So our neurological pathways can become stuck, just like our muscles can become stuck and stiff. So can our nerves. So that we keep travelling that same mental track, and that can turn our neurological pathways from pathways into really big strong highways of thought. Speeding us back towards the pain, again. This increases our 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 we really need to break, in order to step out of our sympathetic nervous system. That 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, our 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 our whole body, our whole 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 our sympathetic nervous system, and into the parasympathetic nervous system. Because while we’re stuck in that sympathetic fight, flight, freeze mode, of our nervous system, our pain-sensitising mechanisms are amplified. Going back to our neurological pathways, that can turn the pathways into highways even more so, with this persistent, recurrent nerve pathway activation. That will ensure that our pain is also felt recurrently, recurringly, and persistently. 

Psychological Factors

Psychological factors then, things like anxiety or fear, even the anticipation of pain, that can take us back into the activation of our sympathetic nervous system. Re-triggering again, that pain cycle. So even emotions, such as these, can increase our perception and our experience of the pain that we 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 our blood flow then impedes our 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 our nervous system. So when we’re stuck in this fight, fight, freeze mode, the sympathetic part of our nervous system, we’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 our sympathetic nervous system into our parasympathetic nervous system, is fundamental, to help step us out of these recurrent pain issues.

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

If you did find 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.