LMC founder Tim Sonnier has a unique perspective on the business of interventional pain management and chiropractic services. In addition to running LMC since 1993, Tim experienced his own journey of seeking ways to relieve his personal physical pain—pain he developed through life beginning with his rough and tumble upbringing, construction work, bodybuilding and then a major accident that led to multiple surgeries and a new level of suffering. Through it all, Tim emerged with a newfound understanding of pain, the danger of narcotics, the link between our physical pain and our subconscious, and ways to tap our own bodies and minds to find relief. Below is an excerpt from an interview with Tim elaborating on his background, his journey and beliefs.
“I was born and raised in the country. Growing up, I was no stranger to hard work raising cattle and working with my dad on the land and around the house. I vividly remember hurting myself when I was young and my mom would give me some Tylenol for the pain. That experience made a connection in my mind that programmed me to believe you could simply ‘take something’ to relieve pain. When I went out on my own, I worked a physically demanding construction job. I think all of those years of physical labor laid a foundation for pain throughout my body, especially my back.
“I then had a brief amateur bodybuilding career and did pretty well, but unfortunately it wasn’t very good for my back and it got progressively worse. After years of pain and flare ups, I got my first narcotic prescription. I was married, happy and working, but still in pain. Years later, my wife would tell me she noticed that my back pain increased with stress. I’d have a really busy time at work and my back would start killing me, so I’d have to take some pain medicine. Then work would calm down and the pain would subside. She watched that cycle go on for 10 years. Around that time, I got my first ESI injection, which worked really well and I was able to get off the pain meds. The relief lasted for about a year and a half. Then I had to get another, which didn’t last quite as long. However, the job was super busy, but the injections allowed me to continue working out, hunting, fishing and enjoying life despite the back pain. These injections also prevented me from needing surgery for about 14 years.
“Then, in 2013, I had a really bad accident that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to come back from. I ended up having four surgeries, including neck surgery for a C5 and C6 fusion, and finally back surgery. I thought all those years I was in pain, but this was a whole different level. I was trying to recover and of course I was using pain medicine to get some relief. I had an event while on pretty heavy pain medicine and realized I had to do something to get off of it.
“So, I did it. I worked to slowly get off the pain medicine. I went out of the country and gained a deeper understanding of spirituality. I learned over time that I had to address the emotional pain of some traumatic events that happened in my past and the physical pain, both at the same time. The healing is based on releasing blocks or traumatic events that happened to you—things that are locked away that you may not even realize are causing you pain. For many people, some of this is going to come out and it is manifested in both physical and emotional pain.
“To sum it up, I have come to understand that there is physical pain on one side and emotional pain on the other, and they are connected. At LMC, we understand that each patient is at a different level of pain in their life and everybody is unique. Our help begins with listening and trying to understand. For some people who are open to the idea, we can then share our thoughts on holistic techniques such as meditation or consciousness research that could help you potentially relieve pain and chronic inflammation, lower stress levels and boost healing. If anyone is interested in this, please let us know. Overall, we are passionate about helping people relieve pain and get back to living their life to the fullest.”
‘Vagus’ is Latin for ‘wandering’ and this nerve does just that, starting in the brainstem and travelling down each side of the neck, across the chest and through the abdomen. This bundle of nerve fibers connects the brain with the stomach and digestive tract, the lungs, heart, spleen, intestines, liver and kidneys. It is made of thousands and thousands of fibers and most of them are sensory, meaning that the vagus nerve reports back to your brain what is going on in your organs.
Stimulating the vagus nerve offers potential relief from various conditions, including inflammation, depression, anxiety, and high blood pressure, amongst other disorders. This nerve holds a crucial role within the parasympathetic nervous system, responsible for promoting our rest and digest functions, creating a soothing and calming influence in our bodies. In contrast, the sympathetic nervous system governs our ‘fight or flight’ responses.
The vagus nerve’s tone holds significant importance for our overall health, playing a pivotal role in our ability to respond to stress and restore balance following stressful situations. Elevated vagal tone enhances the functioning of multiple bodily systems, mitigating the risk of strokes and heart attacks, while also helping regulate blood sugar levels. Furthermore, it is associated with increased feelings of calmness and contentment. Conversely, reduced vagal tone is correlated with cardiovascular diseases, strokes, diabetes, depression, chronic fatigue, and significantly elevated rates of various inflammatory conditions. The vagus nerve serves as the brain’s tool to effectively halt inflammation throughout the entire body and promote comprehensive healing and well-being. Scientific advancements are now starting to align with traditional healing wisdom that has been recognized for millennia.
Singing or chanting activates our vocal cords, which in turn stimulates the vagus nerve. Sing a long to music with a positive message or for a more powerful result try chanting anything in Sanskrit. For more information on singing/chanting, we recommend the following: Jean-Philippe Rykiel/ The Lama’s Chants or Krishna Das/ Breath of the Heart
Cold Water Face Immersion
Immerse your forehead eyes and at least 2/3 of both cheeks into cold water. This elicits the vagus nerve, decreasing heart rate, stimulating the intestines, and turns on the immune system.
Full Body Plunge
Immersing your entire body in cold water has been said to provide additional benefits beyond the cold water face immersion. Learn more with the Wim Hof Method® to maximize energy, get restful sleep, uncluttered headspace and a host of other benefits.
Balance Your Gut
Eating a balanced plant-based diet stimulates vagus impulses to the brain slowing the gut movements.
Having a good laugh lifts your mood, boosts your immune system, and stimulates the vagus nerve.
Essential oils can be therapeutically applied through inhalation, topically, diffusion, or even in bath water. There are a variety that are available to treat a wide range of issues such as increased energy, enhanced relaxation, decreased anxiety and more. Tim rubs peppermint and frankincense for vagus nerve stimulation applied to both sides and back of the neck. Feel free to go online to explore which essential oils might be right for you.
Books and Documentaries
Additional information on health, healthy eating, healing and more can be found through the following: