Is Your Gut The Cause Of Your Pain?

african female medical worker comforting a sick patient in hospital


Written by: Kusha Karvandi

As a coach, I’ve encountered many clients with some form of pain – joint pain, muscle pain, you name it.

Before I studied the neuroscience behind how pain really works, I always approached it from the typical mechanical paradigm. But that often didn’t work; it had it’s limitations and sometimes even made the pain worse.

But how could this be? I mean, I was always taught that if you had shoulder pain, for instance, you would need to perform exercises to work the stabilizing muscle groups around the shoulder and potentially even the muscles around the joints above and below.

Neuroscience shifted my pain paradigm. From a neuroscience perspective, we’re able to understand that pain isn’t always the result of injury and that pain truly lives in the brain.

A perfect example of this is those with phantom limb pain. If pain were a result of injury, how then could someone have pain in a limb that they don’t even possess?

Here’s the other interesting thing I learned about pain – over 60% of pain reported is viscerally-mediated (meaning caused by some level of organ dysfunction). This means that most pain symptoms have nothing to do with the area in which we feel the pain, but more to do with the health of your organs (i.e. liver, gut, gallbladder, etc).

Yes, all that butter and coffee in the morning could be putting excessive stress on your gallbladder, triggering deferred pain in your neck and shoulder.


Now, here’s the other interesting thing about pain – a history of gut issues or inflammation could make you more sensitive to pain in general, viscerally-mediated or not.

More recently, researchers have begun to draw a link between the insular cortex (the area of the brain tied to your sense of self), your gut and your pain pathways. This means that if you’ve had gut issues for a while, you are likely to be more susceptible to experiencing pain.

So, before you go blaming your workout routine for your shoulder pain, be aware that pain is a very complex action output by the brain and has many potential sources – including your gut.


Kusha Karvandi
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Kusha Karvandi

Entrepreneur and Fitness Enthusiast at The Exerscribe
Kusha Karvandi is an entrepreneur and fitness enthusiast with a passion for "biohacking" to help others live their best life. Kusha has 9 years experience as a personal trainer and health club manager, with over 10,000 session hours serviced and 15 certifications. He is the author of Nutriscribe, known for its no-nonsense, no calorie counting approach to weight loss and healthy eating. To round out his passion for helping others get in shape, Kusha has made it his mission to ensure that everyone has a unique personal training experience through his app, Exerscribe, which provides custom and adaptable workout plans to anyone with a gym membership.
Kusha Karvandi
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