Since childhood, we’ve been taught that physical pain originates in the body. Our earliest experiences with pain often happened after scraping a knee or being stung by a bee. The “fix” was usually to bandage the wound or ice the injury. As a result, we learned that pain relief comes from treating the body.
But what happens when that pain won’t go away, despite repeated attempts to heal the injury or physical condition that originally caused us pain?
Around 100 million Americans, and many more around the world, suffer from chronic pain, even after pursuing conventional pain treatments that range from physical therapy to costly pharmaceuticals, even surgery. As just one example, of the hundreds of thousands who undergo knee replacement surgery each year, 20% continue to suffer 1from chronic pain long after recovering from surgery.
If treating the body doesn’t relieve the pain, where do we look for pain relief?
A growing body of research suggests that chronic pain may be linked to emotions. One Dutch study showed that challenging emotions like sadness and anger intensify pain in fibromyalgia sufferers and those without the disease. Another study showed that expressing emotions through behavioral cognitive therapy decreased pain, as well as fatigue, in patients. A separate study at Stanford University found that intense feelings of romantic love contribute to natural pain relief.
In spite of these (and more!) findings demonstrating links between chronic pain and emotions, millions of chronic pain patients continue to be treated with costly conventional treatments that often provide short-lived and, in many cases, partial pain relief. Pills and surgeries clearly aren’t providing the lasting pain relief that people desperately need, so what can?
My answer? Tapping.
First discovered 30 years ago by psychologist Dr. Roger Callahan, and later refined by Gary Craig and Dr. Patricia Carrington, tapping has been used by thousands of people to successfully relieve chronic pain. The technique brings together the best of Eastern and Western medicine, targeting both the emotional and physical aspects of pain. It involves verbally expressing emotions, usually out loud, while tapping with your fingertips on specific meridian points on the body; you can watch a demonstration here.
My first experiences with chronic pain and tapping were in 2007 when my team and I filmed The Tapping Solution, which documented a four-day tapping retreat attended by 10 people who used tapping to move past everything from chronic pain to PTSD, phobias, insomnia, and more. Two of the retreat attendees, Jodi and Patricia, came in hopes of getting chronic pain relief.
Both women had incredible stories. Jodi had been suffering from chronic knee pain as the result of fibromyalgia for 15 years. A formerly avid hiker and incredibly positive, resilient person, Jodi had often been reduced to crawling from room to room on days when her pain was too intense to walk. The pain also woke her up as much as 20 times during an average night.
Patricia had a different story altogether. A year or so earlier, her back had been surgically reconstructed after a severe boating accident had crushed her spine, nearly leaving her paralyzed. Her lower back now had four titanium rods and eight sets of screws and bolts that were put in place to keep her spine intact. While the surgery had been deemed successful, Patricia had been devastated to learn from doctors that she would probably always have pain and would be unable to resume the physically active life she’d always enjoyed.
During that weekend retreat, both Jodi and Patricia successfully used tapping to release the emotional roots of their chronic pain. For Jodi, that meant releasing emotions about her daughter’s struggles. For Patricia, that translated into releasing the emotional trauma of the accident that had altered her life forever. Once she had let go of those emotions, she used tapping to get used to her “new normal” — a back held together by metal pieces.
Since that weekend, both women have defied incredible odds. Now pain-free and able to sleep through the night, Jodi and Patricia have been able to stop taking pain and sleep medications. They’ve also resumed their formerly active lives, which include regular hiking, yoga, and more.
During the years since that transformative weekend, I’ve had the honor of using the same tapping for pain relief process to help thousands of other chronic pain sufferers experience the lasting pain relief they’ve long been seeking.
What emotions might be hiding in your chronic pain? Watch a video on how tapping for chronic pain works here.
Nicolas Ortner is CEO of The Tapping Solution, LLC, a company with a mission to bring into the mainstream a simple, effective, natural healing method known as Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) or "tapping." Tapping is a healing modality that combines ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology.
He is the The New York Times bestselling author of The Tapping Solution: A Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living in addition to six other books and previously produced a documentary by the same name. Ortner aims to empower people to create healthy, abundant, and stress-free lives through his books, films, programs, online events, and speaking engagements attended by participants from all over the world.
He lives in Newtown, Connecticut, with his wife, Brenna, and daughter, June.