What does Psychosomatic Mean? Does it mean "It’s all in your head?"

Learn about psychosomatics and how it impacts us physically

From our Live with Dr Pete Series on Instagram, Dr. Pete answers some commonly asked questions about chiropractic care.

Below are these questions from this session:

What does Psychosomatic mean? Does it mean, “It’s all in your head?”

It is an interesting concept. If you believe in manifestation, you believe something will manifest in your life. You will get more in life than what you ask for. 

Last week, I was talking about the scientific explanation of psychosomatics. What happens is when the egg is fertilized, the brain and the spinal cord are created. And the cells go to the different places to create different parts of the body that they will become; organs, liver, pancreas, eyes, ears, etc. The cells start to differentiate but the same cells that create the brain also become the stomach lining.

When someone has a gut feeling, your brain is logical and your stomach has innate intelligence that will respond and react without thinking. The thinking and feeling in your gut are what psychosomatics are. The things that are going on around you can manifest in your body. It's not that you're making it up; it's that your body is taking information through the nervous system and interpreting it. 

Our bodies are intuitive. We think we are smarter than our bodies but we are not. Do you think of breathing right now? Do we think about regulating our blood pressure? Stomach acid? Fiber in your ears? No, we just do it. 

Can a chiropractic adjustment cause an emotional release?

I have seen this 3 or 4 times over the years. Yes, it does happen. There are some theories that pain and emotions get trapped in the fascia, and it can release an emotional response when you get an adjustment. 

Some people have been wound up so tight for so long that they finally get treatment and they have an emotional release. Sometimes patients will giggle after an adjustment, so we usually get more of that than the crying. The rare patient will scream and we laugh about this. 

What are typical emotional events that cause physical symptoms?

Everyday life. A fight with your spouse, being stuck in traffic, things like that. I was once at a memorial service for a friend that was killed in a car accident and I had a back spasm after the memorial service. The idea of the brain going, “I’m always angry. I'm watching the news and politics, the neighbor, the dog is barking, the kids...” When your emotions are running over time, your immune system will break down.

Just going to visit family can cause physical symptoms. People will throw their back out before seeing their family. Whatever you manifest in your head will manifest in your brain. 

As chiropractors, we help release negativity by properly balancing the body to process information and stressors. Lots of people like to come preventatively before travel and this is helpful. If we can see people before they have a problem, that is most helpful. 

When do you recommend or refer to other practitioners? What practitioners do you refer to?

All doctors do the same type of exam to come up with a diagnosis. There is an actual systematic way to come up with it. Typically we are looking for red flags and coming up with three possible diagnoses. Then we narrow it down from there. 

We save MRIs for very special cases, specifically when we are looking for things that are not in our scope of practice, such as if you are bleeding or have a kidney infection. We will refer these out. A big one for us is having fever and neck pain at the same time. We want to make sure this isn’t meningitis. First thing we could do is lab tests, or refer to an orthopedic. We could also refer to massage and acupuncture or an endocrinologist. This is also why we reevaluate someone every 6-10 months. At every visit, we take notes on the patients to show all changes. 

When we refer to physical therapy, they can be complimentary services. It's not “bed or breakfast,” it's both. It’s important to make sure to continue treatment for the original treatment while also continuing with physical therapy or with the treatment plan of the referred practitioner.

Want to know more or have a question of your own? Follow us on Instagram and join our weekly Live With Dr. Pete series.