Dealing with Chronic Pain: What Couples Need to Know

Dealing with Chronic Pain: What Couples Need to Know

To alleviate the stubborn pain John felt in his lower back, his wife Sarah recommended he visit her chiropractor, on whom she had relied for years to help her control her chronic pain. John made an appointment and was soon waiting in the examining room, ready to meet his wife’s chiropractor for the first time.

The chiropractor entered the room, shook John’s hand and asked him, “How is that pain in your neck doing?”

John corrected the chiropractor, saying that he needed help with lower back pain.

The chiropractor chuckled and said, “Well, when you see her, I hope you’ll tell her hello for me.”

Chiropractor jokes are fun, but chronic pain is certainly not. According to a study in the Journal of Pain, an estimated 50 million American adults suffer from significant chronic or serious pain.

There is a chance that chronic pain could impact your relationships at some point in your lifetime.

Let’s manipulate that impact to be more positive.

Dealing with chronic pain

Typically, we feel compassion and empathy toward our partner’s or our own pain. We try whatever we can to relieve it. But, as chronic pain drags on, it may negatively impact most aspects of a couple’s relationship. For example, if the pain prevents a couple from sharing activities they enjoyed doing together, both parties become frustrated.

Each partner reacts to chronic pain from a different perspective – one may become worn down from the pain directly, while the other may resent restrictions placed on them by something they can neither feel nor see. Compassion and empathy may wane as frustrations and stress levels rise. Tempers may flare. Unfortunately, pain intensity increases as stress increases. Opioids may enter the picture, possibly resulting in dependence, compounding chronic pain and further straining the relationship.

The CB Intrinsic® Touch as a solution

Luckily, there is a promising new solution for controlling chronic pain. This technique is called the CB Intrinsic® Touch and it feels good for both partners in a relationship.

As I teach and apply this technique to newbie chronic pain control students, I tell them to let me know when their pain has stopped. I apply Intrinsic Touch for several minutes and remind them to let me know when their pain stops. At that point they often laugh, saying that the pain had stopped, but the Touch feels so good, they didn’t want me to stop. Couples report sharing the Intrinsic Touch by taking turns. They say it feels ‘sensuous’.

Intrinsic Touch was developed for relieving chronic pain, but, as it turns out, it is also a great tool for couples to soothe each other’s stress at the end of the day, pain or no pain. As with chronic pain, muscle tension melts away rather quickly.

The CB Intrinsic® touch as a solution


Why does this work?

Intrinsic Touch takes advantage of the fact that our nervous system prioritizes imminent danger over pain. In effect, the CB Intrinsic Touch blocks pain because it mimics a spider walking or a snake slithering across the skin. Intrinsic Touch triggers the imminent danger response.

Light Touch or Low Threshold (LT) neurons (nerve cells) respond to very light vibrations. The neurons cannot tell if that stimulation is caused by you, your partner or a spider or a snake. Once faint vibrations turn them on, LT neurons signal imminent danger and temporarily turn off sensations of pain and muscle tension. LT neurons prevent sensations of pain from reaching your awareness in the brain. I suppose the brain prefers to focus all of its energy on getting you away from that presumptive spider or snake. It momentarily stops caring about pain. How handy.

Applying the Intrinsic Touch

To control chronic pain (or recovery pain following surgery), lightly stroke a broad area surrounding the pain. Within a minute or two, the pain will be either significantly reduced or actually stop. Intrinsic Touch is effective whether it is applied to bare skin, or over layers of clothing or bandages, or even bandages with an ice pack. Obviously, if it works through an ice pack, very faint vibrations are all it takes to turn on the LTs. This is not massage. This is not healing or therapeutic energy touch. To work, there must be actual physical contact, albeit light.

To correctly apply Intrinsic Touch, first practice by lightly stroking only the hairs on your arm, swirling your fingers around, without touching the skin underneath. Then practice lightly swirling on the skin itself, without applying the weight of your fingers. Be as light as a feather.  

Do not rub or apply pressure. Pressure sensitive neurons are different from LT neurons. We want to only stimulate the LT neurons.

When the Touch is just right, you may feel a tickling sensation and coolness. This nearly weightless touch tricks the LT neurons into entering their imminent danger response mode. They turn off pain in that area (or at least significantly reduce it for novices). Pain may suddenly occur in an adjacent area. Chase it. Simply Intrinsic Touch all areas of pain until they have all been squelched. It’s no problem. Plus, the Touch itself feels good.

From novice to master status

Feeling relief from chronic pain by applying the Touch may take several minutes at first. Luckily, neurons are fast learners, so it may take only moments to stop that pain the next time. After a first application, pain may not return for hours or a few days. Whenever it returns, apply the Intrinsic Touch again. For masters, pain stops quickly and remains silent for weeks. One may progress from novice to master in less than a month. It just takes practice. Couples don’t need to wait for an excuse to practice this sensual touch. All practice is good.

Restoring quality of life

Whether the Intrinsic Touch is used for its soothing, sensual qualities or to control chronic pain, this is a wonderful exercise for couples. Compassion finally has a healthy tool that works. There is new hope. Stress is reduced. Frustrations dissolve. For those suffering from chronic pain, Intrinsic Touch is especially rewarding. They finally find relief from chronic pain, improve their quality of life and improve the quality of their relationship(s). Considering it from a health standpoint, opioids are not needed. We can eliminate reliance on opioids for chronic pain to avoid the negative side effects they impose on mind, body, spirit and relationships. All the boxes are checked.

This isn’t rocket science, but it is cutting edge neuroscience. Instead of managing chronic pain, we control it intrinsically, from within. Intrinsic Touch is a very healthy choice for chronic pain control.

Progressing further

It’s my pleasure to share this information to help you sensuously control chronic pain with the Intrinsic Touch. To share this beyond my classroom, I have written Chronic Pain Control: Alternatives to Pain Management. You’ll find more descriptions and information about performing the Intrinsic Touch, plus ten more natural techniques for intrinsically controlling chronic physical pain for yourself, without drugs.

We are all in this together. It takes a village to find the best solutions.

Author Vicki Ellis developed CB Intrinsic Emotion Management / Conflict Resolution, Stress Recovery, Better Sleep and Chronic Pain Control courses for students’ personal and professional development. She is a Registered Psychotherapist and a Board Member of the Colorado Association of Psychotherapists.