Anna suffered from severe scoliosis as a child but was able to live an athletic life, playing soccer every week. Later in her life, after pushing a heavy sofa, she was taken to the hospital and 10 years of increasingly frequent episodes of back pain began. Eventually, she could walk no more than 100 meters and often had to use a wheelchair. Worst of all, she doubted her ability to provide the level of care she wanted for her children. By recognizing her symptoms as PPD and receiving appropropriate care, she was able to recover and now enjoys playing soccer with her children.                                                                                                                                                         

Anna is not alone. Every year in the United States, millions of people with very real symptoms face frustration because their symptoms cannot be helped either by conventional or alternative medical treatments. The diagnosis in many of these patients is Psychophysiologic Disorder (PPD) and the symptoms they suffer are perfectly real. The word psychophysiologic means only that the brain and body interact to produce the symptoms, which are not due to mental illness and not self-inflicted.

When diagnostic tests are normal, illnesses can be baffling until proper treatment is provided. Symptoms that can be caused by psychophysiologic disorders include:

  • Pain such as headache, back pain, chest pain, muscle or joint pain and abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Constipation, diarrhea, bloating, nausea and irritable bowel syndrome
  • Discomfort in the bladder or during urination
  • Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome

Remember, the same symptoms can also result from diseases that can be diagnosed through tests, so it is essential to have a medical evaluation to be sure none of these diseases is present.