The link between fear, fascia, stuck emotions and fibromyalgia

Is there a link between chronic fear or “stuck emotions” and the development of fibromyalgia? 

I’m sharing the patterns I’ve seen in my private practice clients who have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia today. While I certainly don’t believe I’m the only one with answers, I do notice patterns and my hope is that we can have a broader discussion of this and together find answers. 

There is new science coming out from fascia researchers as well as psychologists that can help us understand what’s happening physiologically and otherwise, with fibromyalgia (and other conditions like myofascial pain syndrome, which is a topic for another day). 

Recently it’s been proven that fascia can contract independent of muscle tissue, which in itself has massive implications for all kinds of injuries and conditions. But it gets super interesting when we combine that piece of research with another: fascia responds to chemical messengers like fear.

Fear can produce a chemical called TGF, and in the presence of TGF fascia has been shown to thicken. 

Then, we add in another piece of science: fascia has its own pain receptors. 

Why did the fascia thicken in the first place? And could it be that once these factors come into play they create their own cycle? Thicker fascia leading to activation of fascia’s pain receptors; pain causes more fear, which thickens the fascia even more, which may contract even more in an attempt to protect against the chronic unidentified threat. 

The clients I’ve worked with who have fibromyalgia (and additionally my online students as well) all tell similar stories of childhood trauma that caused a lot of internal fear. Many have worked on healing the emotional components, but the physical seems stuck in a pattern. 

In today’s video I share my thoughts on fibromyalgia. 

Would love to hear from you after you get a chance to watch. If you’re landing on this blog/video and you have fibromyalgia I’d especially love to get your thoughts on this. Share them below!

  • Jessica says:

    My dad has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I’m not diagnosed, but have the same issues that he describes. This definitely resonates with my experience, and I can see how he might have a similar testimony. Thank you for sharing this hypothesis. It is most definitely helpful to pinpoint to the source needing healing.

  • Micheline says:

    Would being sent to boarding school 10 hours away from home when I was 12 years old , seeing my family solely at Christmas and summer vacation , not telling them I was scared and lonely as I was told I had no choice but to stay ( no grade 8 in the tiny village we lived in ) also did not want to make them feel bad , being told my poor dad worked hard to send me there , and doing this for 4 years have any bearing on my fibro pain , I lived in fear the first couple of years , came down with scarlet fever , felt utter despair many times .

  • Kim Kanney says:

    So much of the video and the responses resonates with me. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia years ago after taking nsaids daily since my 30s. I am now 62 yo. I gave up the nsaids a while back when I started having stomach problems. Now I take Cymbalta and have done pretty well with the day to day pain. Most of my life has been nothing but trauma, feeling constantly afraid all through my childhood and through twenty years of two bad marriages to alcoholics. Recently retired from an all-consuming and stressful work environment and happily married to a stable person, I am beginning to feel better except for a couple of things. I’m noticing the problems I’ve had for years with my IT bands is spreading down to my ankles and up the insides of my legs as well. I’ve also been battling plantar fasciitis, again, for about a year and a half.

  • Jordan says:

    When you suppress, detach from or stuff your feelings they are forced to find another way to manifest. Physical pain is a common messenger, so we start seeking a physical answer. It can be a shock to discover that suppressed emotions can cause such excruciating physical pain. Check out the work of Candace Pert, Your Body is your Subconscious Mind.

    WOW! It was revelatory to learn “that fascia can contract independent of muscle tissue… and that it has its own pain receptors “! Perhaps the thickening of the fascia is the way our body is attempting to creat Armor as it is trying to carry out the repeated instructions we send our nervous system to protect us.

    Kudos & Gratitude to you Elisha!

  • Fiona says:

    Fibromyalgia could be misdiagnised lyme. x

  • Tammy says:

    Wow. Lightbulb moment. I was raised by a mother who was taught to hide her emotions. She, therefore passed that on to me. As a girl, you had to not show weakness, not burden others with your emotions. I learned quickly to suppress my feelings. Also working in a man’s field only strengthened this for me. I couldn’t show anger or frustration or sadness because the men didn’t know how to deal with it and they treated me differently (negatively) if I showed emotions.

    I lived with my mom for the last year plus of her life. I was her caregiver. I saw these patterns of being shamed for showing emotions during that year. I went to therapy and learned/realized so much about my childhood during those sessions. While living with my mom I was in a constant flare up with my fibromyalgia. It was one of the worst I’d had. When she passed, I moved 500 miles away. My fibromyalgia was gone. I figured it was the stress that caused it and the lack of stress that made it go away.

    My (barely) adult daughter has severe anxiety and depression. She stayed behind when I moved but recently had to move back with me. I have to be very careful what I say and must really watch my reactions (hide my emotions). My fibromyalgia pain is back. It could be stress, but this theory of yours could also be the cause.

    Thank you for opening up this line of conversation and thought.

  • Sybille says:

    This video is so super valuable to so many people, thank you.
    I have treated many people with fibromyalgia and all of them have a history of trauma and are quite aware of it and willing to talk about it and KNOW that their trauma affects their body. It just always seemed like they were so overwhelmed by this that they reached a point where they have done “everything” they can (usually consisting of psychological help) and have reached a point where they cannot go any further and have accepted that “this is the way my body will always be from now on”. It feels so empowering to be able to give them just this one little step further (create a space to feel your feelings), which I believe can help so many people so much.
    Thank you for this wonderful contribution to the world of pain and trauma

  • Sally says:

    Hi Elisha (and mobility mastery viewers) 🙂
    I’m a woman who considers herself to exhibit fibromyalgia symptoms, probably for very many years … “probably” as it isn’t much use going to doctor for any useful help, so I don’t.
    Thanks for the opportunity to comment 🙂
    Yes, your “thoughts” resonate strongly with me, and your info makes a lot of sense … love good info !!
    I also consider myself to have Aspergers Syndrome (girl version). Am 60 yo now, and testing was never an option as a kid. Was only about 3 years ago that I put it together, and suddenly my Life made sense.
    I’m mentioning this as one of the BIG differences between me and other so-called “normals” is that I find my emotions / feelings slow to be processed. I often need time out to understand what emotions I have running through me, to sort through the confusion. When something happens in a social situation that seems to require a response from me, I have a kind of “freeze” moment while I try to sort out what is the appropriate response here. ( I feel I have a wide variety to chose from, lol) I’m hugely better at this now, from years of practice, but it meant that social interactions had a fair degree of underlying fear with them.
    Combined with this, I grew up with an overly dramatic mother and younger brother, and I NEVER could work out what the drama was about … this also contributed to emotions being puzzling to me I think. And yes. my Mom seemed preoccupied with her and my bro’s dramas, so I learnt to be quiet, not cause further upset, not share my thoughts and feelings.
    As an introvert, living in a world with so many extroverts, I discovered that most people are not willing to listen “properly” to someone else anyway, no matter how much I listened to them
    So … short version .. from a very early age I learned to keep my thoughts and feelings inside … and I’d say a lot of them became “stuck” … as you have explained.
    I’ve led a very active life … physically, mentally, emotionally challenging, with huge amounts of “stress” thrown in … lol !
    Despite having a healthy diet, and lots of exercise, I began to have huge fatigue episodes, and muscle twitches / aches / pain, brain fog, and then depression when my life as I was used to it fell apart.
    Did a lot of “personal growth” exploring … learnt HEAPS about myself … but always looking for more info / answers :-))
    Found herbal anti-stress drops worked wonders for lowering my daily stress levels
    Taking Magnesium in a form that is able to be used by my cells is very beneficial to me
    And learning from you Elisha … understanding better how to use my foam roller and to get to know my long-lost fascia part of me, work with it, listen to it … has been enlightening. Big thank you !!
    Onwards and upwards … hugs … Sally :-))

  • Janice says:

    Yes to all of this! I can corroborate everything you said as someone who grew up in constant fear of doing anything and everything wrong from the most mundane tasks to the big ones. I was punished for getting hurt, being sick, or needing help with things because it was a nuisance. One of my earliest memories is being 3 or 4 and hurting my head and trying so hard to hide it from my mom. Any personal expression (even singing along to music) was criticized or worse. I had fibromyalgia for 8 years (my doctor told me it didn’t exist and prescribed me antidepressants which I did not take) and healing began after leaving my ex and meeting my husband who fully accepts me and is the least judgmental person I know. I cut out a huge amount of stress in my life (working 80 hours a week for myself, as an artist no les, to having a more relaxed day to day), worked on the mental/emotional aspects of my life, and the fibromyalgia went away. I have lesser aches and pains now, though I know they share the same root cause, which is how I came to follow you as I searched for answers.
    Your recent series on fascia blew my mind, and I haven’t had time to comment, but it was the first time that I considered labeling anything I’ve been through as trauma. I had a teenage story that parallels yours, down to my best friend being murdered a month after I left my abusive relationship. I have always been determined to heal, to find the root cause, and I am so grateful to you for doing this work and being determined to find the answers. You have been my guide through this part of my journey. Thank you, thank you.

  • Carol says:

    HIghly recommend Dr. Gabor Mate – He wrote a book titled ‘When the Body Says No.’ He addresses a number of physical ailments including fibromyalgia. DrGaborMate.com

  • I would love to find a way to contact my body other than being subject to pain.
    I have done work to contact both the subconscious and the higher self, but I’ve gotten away from that for several years, caught up in life.
    As to the fibromyalgia, it is a combination of maladies which also reside in conflict within my body.
    During the present time we have still been moving and soon, July 22, (subject to eviction from our home of 10+ years) we will either be granted a house by the universe by manifestation, or will be residing in our 21 foot RV with our 5 critters.
    Back to the body issues, fibromyalgia was a diagnosis given years ago from the permanent conditions of sciatica and many difficulties with my legs, and the carpal tunnel problems with my hands, my left hand affected by cervical issues and and my right hand resulting from a condition like tennis elbow.
    I have a fusion at L5, S1 and they tried carpal tunnel release surgery but my issues are permanent according to western medical doctors.
    As to emotions that could be an underlying cause!
    Both my parents were disabled, Dad having natural fusion after injury crushing S1-L3 and severed nerves affecting both legs; mom having a problem of the lower back, eventually having a chiropractor realign her hip joint and forcing the leg bone back into the socket, an extremely painful process which took several years, eventually restoring use of her leg so she could retire her crutches permanently.
    Enduring pain was a huge and very normal lesson taught to us children by osmosis, not intentionally, yet very securely embodied into life and how to live.
    My choice of career was not intentional, yet I fell into construction, doing heavy commercial building as an concrete expert.
    One very prominent part of the construction mentality is keeping pain hidden, partly because one does not make money while injured, plus the he-man macho given by society to construction workers.
    We used to say on the job that if an arm was jerked off, just tie it off with a bandana and get back to work!
    Seriously, I worked with a broken back for an entire week before I discovered it was not pulled muscles, the only thing saving me according to my doctor, was because I had such massively over developed muscles in my lower back, as compared to the average man.
    So I agree your theory could have much merit, at least in my case.
    How to fix the issues of my painful body is the question of the hour, forcing the time out of moving just to wrote this and unable to stop until we are established wherever life chooses to take us presently.
    I would love to share more but must get back on moving for there is a lot left to do and little time in the next few weeks.

  • Maggie Peterson says:

    I had 2 big traumas at age 13 with having MCL & ACL tears with surgery and 4 months later losing my mom unexpextedly after 8 years of having Hodgkins Lymphoma. However, I never remember being ashamed of my feelings and I don’t recall hiding my feelings. I started having symptoms of fibromyalgia at 19 but was not diagnosed until age 38 after many years of trying to figure out what was going on with me. I am now 41 and undergoing chemo for stage 2 breast cancer with plans for lumpectomy and radiation this fall. As a nurse, I am very interested in the research and if any of these techniques that you have can help me. Where can I find them? I have had no luck thus far, although a little relief with Cymbalta.

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