A lot of people suffer from persistent pain because they have been given incorrect information by healthcare professional including doctors, surgeons, physiotherapists, physical therapists, chiropractors and sports massage therapists. The problem is that some of these people’s beliefs about their aches and pains are now the major obstacles to recovery months down the line when we eventually see them. I’ve written this blog to give you a bit more information about what pain is – and more importantly what it isn’t.
What is Pain?
Pain is an output of the brain and pain that persists for more than a few weeks is very often not associated with tissue damage. Pain can be turned on or up by anything that provides the brain with credible evidence that the body is in danger and needs protected. There is often more than one factor contributing to your pain it is not just structural damage, but more things like your thoughts and beliefs, lack of sleep, stress, your mood, fear and avoidance can all affect pain levels as they can provide the brain with the “evidence” to believe the body is in danger.
You might have had an MRI and have been told that you have disc degeneration or something along those lines. However, who is to say your MRI would have looked any different before your pain started? 64% of MRI scans on patients with no back pain showed one or more disc bulges. I’m not saying that your pain is in your head, it is 100% real, it is produced by your brain as a means of protecting you. The pain will be produced more intensely if you have clear evidence of something showing up on an MRI scan.
Now, if you were to play table tennis everyday for a year, you would get a lot better at table tennis. The brain cells that produce pain work in the same way- they get better at producing pain the longer they are doing it. They get more and more sensitive.
Plenty of people suffering from persistent pain let it control their lives. They stop going out with friends, or feel they can’t go out for a family meal for fear of sitting too long which might aggravate their pain. It’s important not to let your pain control you. Letting your pain stop you from going out and doing things you once loved will only cause more negative thoughts, which we know can increase painsymptoms. A lot of times there can be quite a lot of fear, as you may think you are causing your self damage if you are moving with pain! But often times this is your body telling you that you need to take some action and you aren’t causing damage at all.
Once anything serious or sinister is ruled out, a bespoke exercise programme tailored to your needs can reassure the body that it is safe to move.
Here at the Pain and Performance Clinic we can provide you with the correct information about what your persistent pain means, and what it doesn’t mean. We can guide you with specific tailored treatment plans to become pain free. We use hands on techniques to provide you with some relief, which allows you to begin moving. Everybody’s pain is different, we will listen to your story to agree on your set goals and tailor your rehab based on what you want to achieve.
It’s important to remember that what worked for someone else might not work for you – which is why an individual assessment is so important as the cause of your persistent pain could be the complete opposite of someone else’s!