How EFT Tapping Can (and Can’t) Help with Pain and Other Physical Symptoms

Understand when EFT is appropriate for physical symptoms and when more help may be needed.

By Christine McDevitt, MS, OTR/L

Emotional Freedom Techniques (also known as EFT or tapping) has been shown in research studies to be helpful for dealing with pain and other physical symptoms.

While tapping can bring relief, it is not a treatment or cure for any medical condition. It’s important to know when EFT can be useful in addressing physical symptoms and when other interventions may be more appropriate.

EFT helps address underlying cognitive and emotional factors that may contribute to physical symptoms. However, symptoms that have physical causes may still require physical or medical interventions.

Let’s look at two examples to illustrate this distinction.

Using EFT tapping to help with back or leg pain from a herniated disc

EFT can help you address underlying emotional factors that may be contributing to the severity of your symptoms.

For example, if you notice increased pain when you think about what was going on when your symptoms first started, it’s possible your brain made a negative emotional connection to something from those circumstances.

The underlying stress or upset from this association can create conditions in the body that make the pain worse.

Tapping would be an appropriate tool to help find that connection and remove the emotional charge from the memory. This process, when done correctly, may help reduce pain.

Seated woman having back pain could benefit from Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT tapping) to help with pain relief.
Image by Arpit from Pixabay

Why you may need medical intervention

If a disc moves far enough out of place anywhere along the spinal column, it can press on a spinal nerve and cause pain.

Herniated discs are a structural problem. Tapping will not stop a disc from pressing on a nerve.

You may still need physical therapy, chiropractic care, or therapeutic exercises to deal with the position of the disc. In more severe cases, your doctor may recommend surgical interventions if the bones in your spine are unstable or if there is a risk of permanent nerve damage.

Using EFT tapping to help with digestive problems

Man with digestive problems could benefit from Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT tapping)
Image by Darko Djurin from Pixabay

The stress response, otherwise known as fight or flight, affects the digestive system; this is a normal reaction. However, chronic stress or chronic emotional upset cause biochemical changes in the body that can result in dysfunction in the digestive tract.

Tapping can be used to help reduce the amount of stress held in the body. Studies have shown that EFT reduces cortisol, a primary stress hormone. Decreasing the stress in the body will help the body stay in a physiological state that promotes effective digestion.

If stress is held around a current or past situation, you can use EFT to address the thoughts or emotions tied to the pieces of the situation that trigger your symptoms or make them worse. When you change these specific negative associations in your brain, your can body stay in a more relaxed state. This change may help relieve digestive symptoms.

Why you may need medical intervention

If your digestive disturbances are becoming chronic, it’s always recommended that you consult with your doctor to rule out conditions such as Celiac disease or any structural problems (e.g., hiatal hernia, diverticulosis, tumors, etc.).

Your doctor may also want to test for infections in your gut. If one is found, your doctor may recommend medication, especially if your symptoms aren’t improving or are getting worse.

Things to consider when using EFT tapping on your own for pain or other physical symptoms

EFT is an effective way to help address the thoughts and emotions that can contribute to pain and other physical symptoms. Just remember that if there is a medical reason for your pain or symptoms, you may need more than tapping to manage them.

If you’re already using medical interventions and have been tapping on your own and still aren’t getting relief, there may be deeper cognitive or emotional factors linked to the body sensations. These deeper layers can be hard to uncover without help.

This could also be true for situations where the same symptoms or issues keep coming back even though tapping brings relief at the time.

In these cases, working with a certified clinical EFT practitioner can help you find the root causes that may be contributing to your symptoms.