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Deanna - Intense Stress & Chronic Pain - Case Study

Deanna came to me just months before retiring from a high-stress position at 3M. She was experiencing extreme body pain, specifically in her feet. Her body was extremely stressed out from living in a corporate world of “snap snap snap” and working twelve hour days while sitting at a desk with poor posture. Her nervous system was constantly spilling stress hormones into her body, using up oxygen and tightening her muscles and tissues. She was unable to get the calm, rest, and relaxation time her body needed to recover.

After a couple of sessions of working on basic breathing and posture techniques that were producing some calming and pain management effects, Deanna was diagnosed at The Mayo Clinic with Ankylosing Spondilitis, a relatively rare form of arthritis that attacks the lower spine and joints. Treatment protocol (in addition to medication) is to keep fluid movement in joints to prevent fusing and further limitation in function.

Deanna internalized her stress causing her body to turn against itself. When she finally retired, the main stressor in her life was gone, and I was able to help her identify other places in her life where she was taking on unnecessary stress, particularly in caring for others who didn’t appreciate or reciprocate her help.

Over the course of several months we worked on very gentle and progressive movement, breathing, and stretching exercises to help Deanna use her body more effectively and combat the A.S. In addition, she adopted a strict dietary regimen to decrease inflammation. Through her movement exercises, her dietary changes, and her conscious approach to managing and restricting stress in her life, Deanna has since returned to almost full function in her body and now feels she can live with A.S. comfortably without the need for pharmaceutical medications.

Once Deanna started feeling much better, we discovered that years of pain had changed how she moved. Even though she was feeling better, she was walking with a limp and limiting her movement out of habit. We have since been working on teaching her how to use her body in more normal function and to keep it active and moving. She is learning how to pay attention to the effectiveness of tiny micro-movements and specific targeted stretches through breath. Furthermore, we were able to take a deeper look into why she tends to internalize stress and teach her techniques to first avoid unnecessary stress and second express and manage stress in a healthy way. She has systematically limited contact with people who bring her unnecessary stress and found ways to manage stress with family members (specifically her aging parents) she wants to continue to support.

In Her Own Words...

Have you been diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis or an auto-immune condition that commonly results from internalizing stress? Have medications and doctors and other health-care providers failed to help you find a way to live comfortably with your diagnosis? Schedule an initial consultation with TL to determine what stresses in your life may be contributing to your condition, how to manage them, and how to better use your body given your condition.


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