Last issue we discussed my initial research into the link between childhood trauma and chronic pain. This issue I would like to tell you about a 39 year old woman I will refer to as Y.A.

She came to my office complaining of chronic sharp shoulder, neck, upper back and jaw pain. Observation clearly showed Y.A. also suffered from a condition known as swayback. As I do with every patient, I interviewed Y.A. in depth about her background.

She revealed that she had been the victim of sexual abuse from the age of 5 to the age of 16. Y.A. also reported she had fallen down a flight of stairs at the age of 10.

As with many victims of child abuse Y.A. later married a man who abused her. He beat her regularly. She told me her husband even kicked her in the face on one occasion.

Fortunately for Y.A. she was able to leave her husband and escape a very abusive and life threatening situation. But she carried with her the emotional and traumatic scars of an abusive childhood and a violent marriage.

It was time for me to go to work and see if we could help relieve Y.A.’s chronic pain. Because of her history she had difficulties with a number of simple activities. It was painful for her to get out of her car or get out of bed in the morning.

My examination showed that her hip-flexor muscle (the psoas), the muscle which attaches to the spine, then runs down the body behind the lower abdomen, then attaches to the hip, was terribly spasmed and extremely tender to the touch.

This observation of the hip-flexor muscle proved to be the breakthrough I was looking for. I theorized that Y.A.’s swayback was caused by this chronic tension on her hip-flexor muscle.

This was the key! It is common for pelvic and abdominal muscles to spasm during traumatic or extremely frightening events. But what appeared to have happened in Y.A.’s case was that her hip-flexor muscles had spasmed and then maintained that spasm chronically! This is what was causing her chronic pain.

What occurs clinically is that the hip-flexor muscle, which allows the hip to flex is the muscle that moves your leg forward when you walk. If a child is emotionally or physically traumatized between the ages of 5 and 12 this muscle can tighten and then stay chronically tight.

Because the spine is so flexible when a child is under 12 years of age, it will be pulled out of line by this tension. When this happens the result is swayback. This unnatural tension then begins to affect muscles in the surrounding areas, causing poor posture.

Armed with this information I went to work. I began to treat the hip-flexor muscles and the deep muscles in the lower abdomen area. The results were dramatic, Y.A. reported immediate relief from her chronic pain which had plagued her all her life.

Over the years Y.A. has visited the office periodically for check ups. I am happy to report that she has remained free of the chronic pain that plagued her for so many years.


Here are ten common signs of chronic pain that may be related to childhood trauma. If you check one or more of the ten items listed below, and you suffer from chronic pain, you should schedule an appointment with Dr. Nunez.

  • History of extremely frightening event between the ages of 5 and 12.
  • Swayback.
  • Protruding head: carrying the head in front of the shoulders creating the “humpback” look.
  • Rounded shoulders.
  • Parents made you “stand up straight“ all the time.
  • Tenderness in the lower abdomen.
  • Chronic constipation or diarrhea.
  • History of child abuse.
  • Parents divorced when you were between the ages of 5 and 10.
  • Chronic indigestion.


As a general rule, if you have a pain or a health problem that persists in spite of two or three days rest, you should come in for a consultation and examination.

If, however, you are in a car accident or have a slip and fall, you should come in immediately.

Remember, the sooner chiropractic care is started, the sooner you will be back on your feet again. When in doubt, call!


This blog is meant to provide information on current news and general information. It is not intended to constitute medical advice, nor is any doctor-client relationship established by its posting on this website. If you are facing a situation that requires medical assistance, please consult your physician.