ADHD & Back Pain

Jordan’s Body Story

Jordan, a 33-year-old father with back pain and history of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), rumbled in on his motorcycle for our first session. Low back pain radiating to the left side of his thigh halted his life. Though, he barely noticed the pain about two weeks prior after bending over while sitting on a short stool at a small kid table drawing with his children. He was now having issues with sleeping, driving, sitting, bending and lifting. Prolonged sitting and contracting the abdominal muscles seemed to worsen the pain. His work as a graphic artist became increasingly difficult. A friend referred him to me knowing I use Physioenergetic Therapy, a holistic intervention that investigates past life experiences to heal the root of pain and disease. 

As he sat in front of me, I use my expertise as a physical therapist specialized in the autonomic nervous system (in eastern philosophy called the energy system), to evaluate and tune into the energy in his body. My hand, beneath his back, is like a thermometer to gauge the range of motion and emotion, touch reaction, temperature, circulation, tension, and breathing patterns. His body felt like one foot on the brake, one foot on the gas. Can you feel that in your body? It’s like a push and pull of internal muscles and organs, creating an angst and a constant rev in the body. In contrast, his exterior appeared gentle-spirited, calm and cool. I felt there was something underneath his hip beard, black mask, Vans wearing and all black clothing that we needed to uncover. Jordan has a sweet 5 year old daughter and a 2 ½ year-old son who he describes as an anarchist. Ha! I chuckle, maybe a mirror of himself. He felt that becoming a father was one of the most impactful moments of his life. 

From what I gathered on the life and medical history intake form he filled out before our initial session, Jordan was a “thrill-seeker” – loved to ride skateboards and motorcycles. He sustained some musculoskeletal injuries along the way ranging from shoulders to hands and ankles, but it’s just what happens when you’re moving fast! Emotionally, Jordan rated his life at a 6/10, below fair. I’m a little concerned. He checked several signs and symptoms on the intake form from feeling nervousness to dealing with poor memory, ADHD to marital problems. I could hear loud and clear that he was dealing with something in his present life experience that is triggering memories of his past pain. But what? This is when my body detective kicks into full gear. He also stated that he is affected by financial stress and burdened by the responsibility of a single income. 

On the medical history intake form, Jordan checked that he was dealing with anxiety, anger/rage and excessive alertness, which are typical signs of Post- Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is another mental sticky note on my investigative map of pain that ignites my search for a previous trauma hidden within his body because I didn’t see a specific traumatic event detailed on the health history form besides his parents’ divorce. Over the years, I’ve come to realize the wounds we carry aren’t always on the surface and easy to find in our memory because we incessantly try to bury them so we can survive trying to live the happiest lives we can. Our body knows best and sooner or later it will bubble up for us to deal with so we don’t pass our pain to our children.

Growing up, Jordan didn’t feel safe with anyone in his family besides an uncle, who happened to be dyslexic (this guides me to understand the relationship bond). He described his parents as affectionate, but not very supportive and his family didn’t feel very close to one another. Jordan’s parents divorced when he was two years old. Another mental sticky note goes up in my mind like a clue on an investigative map of his pain. His son is around two years old, Jordan’s age when his parents split, which is internal heartbreak for a kid. What we don’t heal shows up when our children are at the exact same age!

Jordan was open about his early years of life, struggling in school and at home. He sounded like he was emotionally caught in the middle of his parents’ marital conflict. Mom said, he acted like his dad and dad told him he acted like his mom. That could be confusing for a child because what does that mean for him? Who is Jordan? This split with his parents doesn’t establish a solid foundation to build self-esteem, instead there is a constantly revving internal conflict. 

Jordan was diagnosed with ADHD in 4/5th grade. He took Ritalin for two years and did very well in school. He said the medication helped him finally feel good about himself and then his mom took him off the medication because she thought he acted like a zombie. He said, he was sad because he felt productive during that time, which gave him confidence. I felt like these were big words for Jordan to express verbally during our first session. I felt Jordan was not seen for who he truly is in his home. And, that is what I do in my practice is calm this internal rev in the body, so that boys to men like Jordan feel safe, seen and heard, often for the first time in their life.  

Energetically, he was stuck in the emotional frequency state of apathy. When a person is unable to express anger and rage it falls flat into a low state of energy, like depression (and I don’t mean from a diagnosis perspective, I am talking about a feeling state.) I can see it in the rounded shoulders, forward head posture, I can hear it in the low monotone of his voice. 

Jordan’s story felt stuck in his body. This is where the magic comes into the body story…

I gave Jordan body homework to do, consisting of a figure 4 stretch, sciatic nerve flossing, seated hip circles, and mobilizing the sacrum with a tennis ball. I suggested Kundalini Yoga to help calm his internal energetic state and the pressure I felt emanating from his body. Most importantly, I had Jordan journal the topic “if my pain had a voice what would it say?” Yoga and journaling were new for him, but he was open and seemed willing to try anything at this point.

When Jordan returned his pain had localized, which I found as an improvement. This means where pain was radiating downward toward the feet, reversed and moved back upward toward the center of the spine. When the pain moves it’s a sign to me, we are on the right path. Notably, Jordan found that his back pain did have a voice. It was saying “something has to change.” And by golly, something did. 

Jordan lost his job.

He was able to talk about the loss of his job with his wife and understand the opportunities he had in front of him. As Jordan was talking, I noticed an irregular breathing pattern where he was holding his breath while he was talking allowing him to only say a sentence or so before needing to gasp for some more air.

His sweat glands seemed to be overactive too, all signs that the body is in distress or has been in the past. I was still in my body detective suit trying to solve the mystery. I gave Jordan some more body homework consisting of hip stretches and an integrative listening system that helps regulate the vagus nerve in the body responsible for fight/flight/freeze symptoms in the autonomic nervous system. I thought this would be helpful to mobilize the PTSD like symptoms he’d been experiencing—anger/rage, anxiety and excessive alertness, all signs of survival mode.

Next session, I focused on diaphragmatic breathing and breath training where I mobilized the fascia of the ribs and its connection to the core muscles especially while Jordan was talking to me. Nonchalantly, Jordan mentions a near death experience he had at two years old. Inside, I’m shocked he never mentioned this incident in my highly detailed health history form. 

“Wait, what?” I surprisingly asked. 

“I slipped through the cover and fell into the cold pool when I was two years old.” Jordan said. “My mother and grandmother were inside the house and my father was supposed to be watching me or something like that, who knows.” He sighed. His grandmother revived him with CPR. The medic said if it would’ve been winter he would’ve died. 

And then it occurred to me, his body is stuck in freeze mode. It wasn’t fight or flight, it was frozen. His mind felt like he couldn’t move forward. His body responds to stress as if he’s still in that pool because the survival mechanism hasn’t been turned down yet…until now. 

I grabbed that mental sticky note I tucked away when I evaluated Jordan regarding the age of his son because I find no coincidence that his son is two and half years old, the age of Jordan when he endured a horrific trauma in his body. When a memory surfaces like this it’s a spiritual hit and your mind has to process the deep connection. Pain is the awakening of the past life experience impact. 

When Jordan returned, he told a story where his five-year old daughter helped him understand how he hurt his back as he was questioning it after our last session. She took his hand and walked him to the backyard. She showed him that he was playing with her and he stepped back and a bucket was behind his feet. Jordan was re-enacting this for me and as he steps back, he starts to flail his arms and leg as he falls back. 

Immediately my mind sees a young boy falling into a pool and his arms and legs flailing under water trying to swim and fighting to stay alive. We needed to turn down the sympathetic nervous system response in his body- this mechanism was designed to save us. Our heart rate goes up to swim harder, blood shoots faster to the muscles so we have the strength to keep going, energy is hijacked to the organs to give him all the power needed to fight to stay alive.

Jordan’s daughter helped him connect the dots by taking him back to the scene of the mysterious crime of pain hiding in his body. This was a powerful moment in our sessions where you can feel Jordan torn between his parents. They divorced shortly after his accident. He could feel a lot of anger in that moment. He was left to be the obedient child in the middle of two people that didn’t get along and most likely blamed one another for this tragic moment in his life. The anger bubbled to the surface through feelings of heat and perspiration and I used physioenergetic therapy techniques to release the old patterns of draining energy and rewire a new energetic flow in the body. When we connected the emotions and sensations of pain from that childhood trauma, his autonomic nervous system reset from fight-flight-freeze to rest-digest and repair. This engages his executive functions to solve issues in life and heal the pain in his body. This is healing the emotional root of his physical back pain. 

I guided Jordan to release his body from this stuck chronic contractual state. He followed my example reaching far and wide with his arms and legs to find freedom in his tissues. As we were in this space you could feel the sadness he has been drowning in for most of his life. It dawned on him to tell me about the breathwork he was doing in his meditation practice. There was a part of the practice that had him continually pump the breath through his heart. 

“Gina, I just burst into tears.” He said.

He’s plugging back into this body. The primary respiratory mechanism had lost its rhythm after being stuck in survival mode and needed to be restored in different planes of movement. So, I had him stand on a rocker board and as much as his body wanted to lean back into the pain I had him push down into his toes and shift his weight forward to free himself. This buoyed his spirit.  

“Close your eyes. Feel your body and lean forward into the future of possibilities instead of being weighted by the past.” I said, these are the transformative moments in sessions when you can palpably feel a person’s energetic field and bio-electric properties changing within the human organism. It’s electrifying. 

Jordan’s consciousness and energy shifted to a state of gratitude since he was experiencing such minimal pain after five weeks of treatment. So fast. He found a good flow of consulting clients and even tested his integrity by turning down another corporate job sticking to what he loves and wants to do with his life. He returned to skateboarding and riding his motorcycle without pain. 

In our last session Jordan said, “I brought a gift for you,” as he started to pull out a poster from the cardboard cylinder. It was a rad fine art snake image Jordan had created himself. It was so cool. And he couldn’t have chosen a better image for both of us- individually we were both going through a personal transformation which is what a snake represents. Jordan fearlessly opened up about his life. His shift was palpable and he reminded me to courageously keep empowering others to do the same, especially boys and men. 

As a physioenergetic therapist, I see Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)as an energetic disorder. Sometimes the body’s energy is heightened because of a childhood trauma. Watch my transitional Doctorate Physical Therapy presentation on ADHD

I explained my history of working with young boys to help them understand their feelings and sensitivity. They deny their feelings by putting on their armor somewhere along the line (usually in middle school around sixth grade). Then they become men wrapping themselves in work, productivity and success steering further away from their creativity and purpose, and their body ends up taking a toll. 

“That’s so sad.” Jordan said as tears welled up in his eyes behind his masked face. It was a moment. 

You could see this was Jordan’s life. A mourning of that little kid who wished he could’ve been given the love and confidence he needed to find his purpose and follow his passion in life. But I have no doubt he will raise his son that way. It’s how we heal generational trauma. 

Jordan & Son