Is limbic retraining any use for structural chronic pain such as EDS? (Spoiler: yes!)

Its been a while since I’ve written for this blog because I’ve been deeply into the process of following the Gupta Program limbic retraining since February and wanted to give my all to that…ongoing. I’ve seen massive improvements in many area of my health management, far too many and particular to me to itemise and, of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t continue to have the occassional flare-up of symptoms (or “dips” as we on the program call them) but that I handle them much better (which often, then, curtails them sooner).

So, as of yesterday (per every year that I have written for this blog at this time of the year) it feels like I am into my first BIG flare-up of the “winter” season because, for me, they have tended to start happening as early as mid to late August for as long as I can remember (I guess I’m just micro sensitive to the circannual rhythms). As soon as we are past Lammas, its as though my body registers the steady shortening of days and, well, off it goes. In the old days, it was when fibromyalgia flare-ups and increased chronic fatigue would raise their heads. These days, its more complicated than that.

As Ehlers Danlos symptoms very much dominate my physical experience now, since menopause, more so than “fibromyalgia”, the experience goes something like this:

EDS is caused by lax connective tissue, including ligaments (which connect bones to other bones) and tendons (connect muscles to bones). This connective tissue is designed to hold things together, to keep our joints from dislocating or extending too far. When healthy, it is strong enough to stabilise but flexible enough to allow movement but, in hypermobility syndromes, the ligaments and tendons are more like rubber bands and can’t be strengthened by exercise (as I’ve found out to my detriment). Its why being cautious around certain types of yoga that involve too much stretch has been necessary, though I use a core routine on a daily basis.

However, there are also muscles, including stabiliser muscles (which lie deep in the body and can’t be seen but which fight gravity, allowing us to sit or stand, for instance) and movers, which are those we see bulk up with exercise as they flex, just below the skin.

When the supportive tissues such as ligaments can’t do their job, its these stabiliser muscles that tend to take on more of a supporting role, except, if they get overworked from the need to do this they can turn off altogether. Combined with the rest of them becoming deconditioned from constant pain and a sedentary lifestyle caused by illness or chronic fatigue, they often don’t function adequately, leaving the mover muscles to step in as a support system (which isn’t meant to be their job!), meaning these become incredibly stiff and sore in the process. So, I find I can abruptly switch from feeling as though I am held together by rubber bands to being in severe muscle pain and an incredibly limited movement range when I have an EDS flare. I could be turning my ankle, staggering weak-kneed or feeling as though my torso is severely gravity challenged, putting uncomfortable pressure on various organs, such as digestive system or bladder, one minute and in a sort of generalised muscular rigamortis the next.

So, I’d been registering increased hypermobility for a few days coinciding with yo-yoing weather conditions (hot and sunny one minute, dark, blustery and decidedly autumnal the next) but yesterday’s onslaught was more sudden. At first, I felt my body become excessively tired and hypermobile following an hour of moderate exertion cleaning a room ready for my first visitor since lockdown.

Suddenly, I had hypermobile or “elastic” joints going on everywhere, from my ankles, fingers, wrists and elbows to my hips, middle back, rotator cuffs (which become pretty sore!) and neck (cervical instability has a lot of offshoots including migraine headaches, vision and hearing issues, TMJ and facial pain, trigemenal neurolagia, dizziness, vertigo and brain fog, functional toothache plus that horrible “head too heavy to hold up” sensation that requires me to sit well bolstered by pillows all day, which can feel pretty limiting). Even my mouth and throat tend to join in (causing food gagging and slow digestion, repeatedly biting my inside cheek, sometimes a hoarsness to my voice) plus my front tooth, as usual, began to feel slightly loose and to click when lightly pushed. My hearing became distinctly muffled throughout the afternoon as though I’d forgotten to remove my overnight earplugs and the quality of the music I was listening to became compromised. Oh, and functional cystitis and IBS are always fun joiner-iners, along with supplements and food feeling stuck in my gullet and a bout of acid reflux straight after every meal because of gastrointestinal sluggishness.

In the relatively early stages of joint laxity (and because I now listen to my body more, taking practical action quicker these days, since starting the program), I knew I had to take a break from my task and lie down. Old me, by the way, would almost certainly have pushed through, telling themselves they had to get the job done before a rest was allowed.Pretty soon, it was obvious that lying down, head supported, needed to be “it” for the rest of the day and my task would have to be delegated (something else I’ve got better about lately).

This is testament to the fact that I’ve become so much better at responding appropriately yet in a calm, unflustered way and without going into fear, depression or overwhelm since using the GP methods and there are always tools I can draw on if any of these things crop up. Meanwhile, by keeping my head clearer of such heightened emotions, I’ve been able to better-grasp the unique mechanical behaviours of my body these past months (because there is a lot to take in when you have these overlapping syndromes…and no two people with these conditions has the same exeperience so you have to learn your own ropes pretty thoroughly), helping me to respond more practically and calmly because I can more clearly see what is going on when I’m in the midst of a flare whilst knowing this phase will certainly pass.Though there’s still a lot going on with my health, I no longer feel like I’m drowning in it all and there’s a lot to be said for being able to see wood for trees. I sleep better and I return to balance more often than not, these days.

Back to this particular flare-up, as I’ve already touched upon, the way EDS works is that, in the wake of a phase of hypermobility making the body feel overly loose and unreliable, along comes an almost paradoxical reponse of intense rigidity and contraction, as muscles attempt to overcompensate for having chewing gum supports. So, pretty soon after stopping what I was doing and taking a break, I was struggling to get off the sofa and hobbling around like a ninty year old. In the morning,I woke feeling so hypermobile it was like being the overly lithe and limber teeanger I once was (I always loved to double wrap my legs around each other or lie in abormal positions, face in pillow, torso twisted all over the place) until I remembered I shouldn’t because, these days, there’s a price to pay for such laxity. By the time I got up I was already locked into rigid pain and pretty much unable to do anything on the yoga mat, which is rare.

On day’s like this, there is nothing for it but to halt any tendancies to over-react and prepare myself to “glide” through the experience as best I can and with as much sense-of-humour and optimism as I can muster, something for which the GP offers many tools. It does no good at all to let my thoughts linger in the domian of whether symptoms are getting worse, either with the seasons or increasing age; rather, at these very times, I need to give my nervous system the welcome break it needs to respond as appropriately as possible to the call for rest and recovery.

Still, the naysayer inside of me keeps wanting to ask, is the Gupta Progam even suitable in my case? After all, its meant to target conditions triggered by a faulty “loop” in the brain, a glitch in the communication between the limbic brain and the autonomic system, which makes it perfectly positioned to help with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (PoTs), which is a type of dsyautonomia (disorder of the nervous system), for instance, but surely no good for EDS, which is a hard-wired structural condition with genetic causes, so you can’t reprogram that, can you (or is there an epigenetic component)??

The close link between PoTs and EDS is already very well established (one condition is seldom mentioned without the other) and there is a great deal of information out there if you search for it, yet the basis for the connection is not well understood. I sense it is most often implied that EDS can “lead to” PoTs but, in my case, I tend to sense that it is the other way around. After all, I’ve been hypermobile all my life but never felt the need to label it EDS…until PoTs came along and turned it into a problem.

Also, here’s what I sense about my EDS flare-ups…they are actively driven by my PoTs, as in, when PoTs flares up, EDS episodes so often follow.

So, the good news here is that, just as long as I can still remember that I haven’t always had hypermobility issues to such a great extent that everything in my life has to make way for them, there is always hope that I can recover, because this is where the Gupta Program comes into its own…tackling conditions such as PoTs that came about because of a faulty response in the brain and which can therefore be reprogrammed. And if PoTs wasn’t there, would my natural hypermobility present such a problem or could it go back to being mild to unnoticeable, like it used to be?

In other words, whilst I have been hypermobile all my life, its only been over the past decade or so that what I would now label EDS has flared-up to this level, thus I can still remember a time when to be hypermobile wasn’t such a problem, which means I have a good chance of returning to that state. The same can be said with any chronic health condtion where you can still recall a time when you weren’t like that, in which case you can tackle the condition with limbic retraining and hope for good results.

And what I do know is that the Gupta Program has taken me a very long way this year, that it helps stablise me and my symptoms and, in a sense, “hold my hand” through flare-up situations when they happen, also that its methods significantly calm down my autonomic dysfunction, far quicker than anything else I’ve ever tried. The very routines of the program have become my strongest support system through my days, seasons and variable health, meaning I know I have something reliable to help guide me through whilst enabling me to make leaps in how well I understand the challenges I have and where they came from. I’m able to stand back and witness my responses in a far more detached way now, as well as to rise above it all and achieve significant quantities of inner peace and contentment with my situation. All of this helps to calm the autonomic nervous system, quite significantly.

The more my body gets to experience, thus remember, what a healthier autonomic system feels like, the sooner (and more sustainably) it gets to shift into a new groove of behaviour.

The usual trait of PoTs that doctors look for is a tendency for symptoms that come on when standing up and which are improved by lying down and it has a great deal to do with blood flow and pressure. In my case, my dysautonomia triggers are “environmental” more so than “postoral” (although orthostatic challenges such as dizziness, lowered blood pressure, spacial challenges, borderline syncope, palpitations, brain fog and confusion, blood pooling issues etc. certainly do become worse when I am upright during a flare-up, they also come on when I am sitting or lying down thus a tilt test can’t be used to assess them, possibly because I have generally low blood pressure).

So, for me, its changes in the weather or temperature, air pressure or electro magenetic field etc., including high EMF exposures, that tend to trigger off an episode. Also stress, over-tiredness (which becomes a chicken-and-egg scenario as tiredness triggers PoTs and/or EDS, which then leads to periods of intense chronic fatigue, leading to more episodes of PoTs and EDS, etc). Also inflamation and various allergic responses, though I have to say my MCAS symptoms have improved considerably this year whilst on the program. I still have functional digestive issues, plus other related effects such as Reynaud’s phenomenon, allodynia and peripheral neuropathy (for instance, in the recent heat wave, I had episodes of blood suddenly pooling in feet and fingers, alternating with completely white-dead fingers and numbness, along with itching/burning skin and clothing intolerance). Temperature dysregulation is another of my regular symptoms, meaning I am often to be found wrapped up in a blanket and woolly hat on a hot day or throwing off bedsheets when everyone else is chilly. At such times, I try not to take myself too seriously, for instance, as I lie there in a deckchair looking as though I’m expecting a blizzard!

“Fun party” though this all sounds to be, I have such good results with the GP that I am now able to float through my dips with relative ease and pragmatism, knowing all the time that, the more calm I keep my nervous system, the better the outcome and the sooner I get to it. So, I continue optimistically and diligently, holding to the thought that this winter season will be easier (certainly better supported) than the last because I have several months of the program behind me, during which a hugh amount of progress has been made in support of my recovering nervous system, and in the meantime, all the tools and teaching of the course hold me in good stead to keep calm and envision a steady return to better health.

Find out more:

Its possible to access the Gupta Program on a 28 day free trial without so much as entering a payment card and its a particularly great time to join as the next 12-week webinar series is due to start in September (to which I will be enrolled as ever since I find these weekly sessions so incredibly beneficial and grounding). Also, right now, you can still use the code REBOOT to get $50 off the full program if you decided to continue beyond 28 days.

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