What is pain?
Pain: dull, achy, stabbing, electric, sharp, persistent… At some point in our lives we have all faced pain, acute or chronic. But what is pain? As a therapist I see all types of pain on a daily basis; the most common goal for patients is to reduce their pain, but what I also noticed is that pain is still widely misunderstood.
When we are in pain we get scared; we have often been told that there must some damage somewhere in the body as a cause, to avoid movement, to protect the area, but this is not always the correct answer, especially for more persistent and chronic pain.
Pain is defined in healthcare as ‘an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage’. Pain can therefore be described as a signal of the body, but contrary to common belief, it is not always sign of damage: pain is always produced by the brain which reads the thousands of inputs coming through the different receptors in our tissues and continuously interprets them; it can be a result of changes in tissues (pressure, temperature etc.) or even just an anticipation or ‘fear’.
Have a look at the services we offer that will help you recover from your pain once and for all.
Acute & Chronic Pain
The type of pain associated to tissue damage is often described as acute pain, it develops quickly and can last a few days to a few weeks but generally not more than 3 months. This is a normal physiological response of your body that accompanies inflammation; pain in this instance is ‘good’ as it limits movement of an injured area while it properly recovers.
Chronic Pain is where things become more complicated; it generally lasts longer than 3 months and tissue damage is often not the main culprit. With chronic pain your body has often completely recovered from the initial injury, but your brain is still producing a ‘pain’ signal. Chronic lower back pain – when all structural issues have been ruled out – is a prime example, check our blog next week to learn more about it.
So what can you do about it?
With any acute injury the first step is always a prompt assessment; this will minimise any risk of further damage and speed up your recovery. Your classic first aid steps of protection, icing and rest are your starting point, followed by advice from your therapist.
This will general include hands-on treatments as well as a gentle rehabilitation approach followed by strengthening.
Chronic pain often needs a 360 treatment approach. Once any underlying structural issue has been ruled out, a movement-based approach is often needed, not only to regain strength and range of motion, but to retrain the brain that certain movements are good. Changing daily life habits, workstation and nutrition can also contribute in a positive way. Gentle hands-on treatments focusing on posture are also often helpful – have a look at the services we offer that will help you recover from your pain once and for all by clicking the link below.