Pain is an experience most of us are reasonably familiar with and it comes in all shapes and sizes (well you know what I mean!). Being able to feel pain is vital to our safety as it alerts us to danger and potential tissue damage (finger in a flame, a broken bone etc) but is pain always a negative experience?
What are some positive pain experiences?
- Massage or physiotherapy treatment…?!
Does pain mean that tissue is being damaged?
The surprising answer is NO! Pain is NOT a reliable indicator of tissue damage, hurt does not equal harm in every situation.
Sometimes an injury can be very serious but there is no pain and yet something as simple as a paper cut can sting like crazy! But don’t take my word for it, check out this great video…
Lorimer Moseley – Why Things Hurt
Pain is a personal experience based on many different inputs, such as our beliefs about pain, past experiences, current health and fitness and our stress levels. Because it is such a personal experience adopting a one size fits all approach to treating pain is not always helpful. This is why having an assessment with a qualified professional, such as a physio, is the best way to approach any pain problem.
Some of the beliefs we hold about pain can lead to unhelpful coping strategies such as avoiding exercise or movements that cause discomfort for fear of causing damage.
Why do we have pain if there is no trauma?
If there is no trauma (injury) then there is no healing, so it’s no surprise to find that pain has not always gone away after 6 weeks (the normal healing time for tissue) and even if it has it’s not because the tissue has healed! Pain happens when the specialist nerve cells called nociceptors are stimulated by either temperature, mechanical (pressure/stress/strain) or chemical (tissue injury) changes. The body can also learn to produce these danger signals on their own even when there are none of these changes happening, this is called persistent pain. The pain is very real but it’s important for your health professional to establish why you are experiencing pain, so that they can take the best approach to help you understand it so you can help yourself.
This is a great video about persistent pain it’s only 5 mins long. Take time to watch it before reading the rest of this blog.
Tame the Beast – It’s time to rethink persistent pain
Exercise and Pain
As I have said before there is no one size fits all way to treat and manage pain but taking any form of exercise will help. We know that exercise can help desensitise the nervous system so that the specialist cells are less sensitive, it helps reduce fear avoidance behaviours, such as stopping certain activities or movements, and reinforces the new belief that pain does not equal harm. Exercise also releases endorphins which are powerful pain relieving hormones and helps to lift a low mood.
To find out how we can help you ease your pain, improve your confidence and get you back to doing the things you want to do, book your FREE Physio Consultation by clicking on the link below: