In this blog post (part 4 of a series) we will look at body trauma signs.
Please go to part 1 of this series on reclaiming healthy touch to read from the beginning.
This blog post is part of the term paper I wrote in July 2003.
Reclaiming Healthy Touch Series
1. Introduction – Reclaiming Healthy Touch
2. Why Reclaiming Healthy Touch Matters
3. How Does Trauma Affect The Brain
4. Body Trauma Signs
5. Trauma Massage Warnings
6. Trauma And Massage
7. Trauma Bodywork Methods
8. Trauma Bodywork Resources
Body Trauma Signs – Part 4
Often people do not associate trauma with chronic pain such as backaches, headaches, specific painful areas, tense muscles, or being disconnected to parts of their body. Yet body trauma signs will show up in these ways as well as many others., Through regular health care channels of going to a doctor or chiropractor, individuals may find temporary relief of their symptoms, only to find out that the symptoms later return.
Some of the more specific things that people experience as they visit health care professionals but do not respond long term to the treatment, include:
Trauma Body Signs & Health Care
Other sensations from being touched.
Feeling as if time stood still during the treatment.
An hour-long visit feels like it only lasted 20 minutes.
My skin became blurred.
I wasn’t asleep, but I wasn’t awake..
I felt as if I was floating, hovering above the table.
While some of this may seem obvious, it often is not during the treatment. Both the health care provider and the client may not be totally communicating the extent of everything occurring within the body. It may also not be in the client’s awareness that these things are actually taking place.
Body Trauma Signs
Chronic pain can be a big indicator of trauma that is hidden within the body. Often times there is no explanation for this to occur, and it shows up at some of the most unusual times. While there may be ways to attempt to explain why the pain is in a certain area of the body, it is usually not connected with any single event. Going to a health care provider may provide relief, but then the chronic pain shows up again at some point in time and the individual must once again seek treatment.
There may be people out there that do not actually feel what is going on in them. For instance, a person may go to a dentist and not feel any of the pain while the dentist is on a very sensitive area of the patient. Or possibly, a nurse may be trying to draw blood and the patient will not feel anything at all.
There is also the case where an individual is receiving a massage but is not able to actually feel the touch of a person and may request much deeper work just to actually experience the sensation of the massage. Sometimes an individual is able to receive a massage or body work but will have various areas where they do not actually feel any touch or they will not be able to put any descriptive words with the body part that is experiencing the touch. This could be due to hyperesthesia or a person just being numb to these particular areas of the body.
Rigid And Tense Muscles
Rigid and tense muscles can also indicate that some type of trauma may be present. Remember that trauma gets locked in the body at the time of impact and sometimes it is said the body is frozen in time. These rigid or tense muscles may be a reflection of the body being frozen in time or it may also be the result of a stimulus that the body has picked up on.
Sometimes the individual does not know of these rigid or tense muscles nor are they under conscious control. This may also be the body’s way of trying to protect itself or put up a wall to act as a boundary, until the individual is able to realize that what is being done to them is not a perceived threat of a past connection to a traumatic event.
If someone has been through horrible experiences in life, body trauma signs will be present. Practitioners of health care modalities need to observe and notice these signs if they are to be effective.
If there is no recent injury that is known to the individual, there may be painful places when very light touch is applied. While there is always the possibility of other medical conditions, these areas may show up at times and then disappear at times. The individual may or may not be aware that they exist.
Numbness and Feeling Disconnected
A big area that will usually indicate there is trauma hidden in the body is when an individual experiences numbness or feeling disconnected to their body. Often that area of the body is one that is strongly associated with the traumatic event and is too intense for the trauma survivor to deal with. By being disconnected or numbing out, the person can continue to function in life.
One way to tell if the person is numbing out is to ask how a particular area feels to them. Too often for someone that experiences these things, it is much easier to tell you that everything feels fine, when in fact it is either painful or they do not experience any type of sensation.
You do need to be careful in how you ask a person about an area where you suspect they are numbing out. They may answer your question just enough to get you to move beyond that point without confronting in the least bit what is actually going on there.
When dealing with body trauma signs, be careful as you may be approaching a very strong traumatic point in the body. If the person is not ready to deal with this, do not try to force them. You may make matters worse.
Be careful, as you may be approaching a very strong traumatic point in the body and if the person is not ready to deal with this, do not try to force them as this could only make matters worse. Try to be present with them and act as a guide should their body decide it is time to deal with this area. When there is numbness, it does take time for a person to work through these things and become fully aware of what is going on in the body.
One other identifying factor of those who have been through traumatic experiences may be individuals who just cannot relax, even after a professional massage or a vacation. This may be due to the fact that the body will not let its guard down and remains in a full state of alert at all times. No matter what is done, relaxation is never fully reached in individuals such as this, unless the appropriate energy is given to moving beyond the traumatic event. The individual will need to build up safe boundaries of trust before they can begin to deal with the traumatic events and receive the benefits of a relaxing and therapeutic massage.
Part 5: Trauma Massage Warnings
- National Domestic Violence Hotline – National Statistics.
- Beyond Surviving -A Safety Program toward a movement to prevent child sexual abuse © MS Foundation for Women, Gillian Murphy. Pg 3.
- Answers to Your Most Frequently Asked Questions about PTSD – www.4therapy.com (this website appears to no longer be in service).
- Compassionate Touch (Pg 34) Dr. Clyde W. Ford North Atlantic Books © 1993, 1999.
- Compassionate Touch (Pg 11) Dr. Clyde W. Ford North Atlantic Books © 1993, 1999.
- Compassionate Touch (Pg 22) Dr. Clyde W. Ford North Atlantic Books © 1993, 1999.
- Compassionate Touch (Pg 18) Dr. Clyde W. Ford North Atlantic Books © 1993, 1999.
- University Of Washington Medical School (Webpage) Jean Schuna, MIT, LMP Massage and Bodywork with Survivors of Torture.
- The Hakomi Institute (Webpage) – www.hakomiinstitute.com
- Compassionate Touch (Pg 43) Dr. Clyde W. Ford North Atlantic Books © 1993, 1999
- Touch Research Institute University of Miami School of Medicine, Miami, FL., Dr. Tiffany Field, Ph.D. Study: Effects of sexual abuse are lessened by massage therapy