Most people come into the clinic because they are in some sort of pain and discomfort. But what exactly is pain?
Pain is not simply a message from an injured tissue, for example a pulled muscle or sprained ligament. Pain is a complex experience tuned by our brain and a result of the interaction between the body and mind.
The experience of pain is a universal experience, controlled by the brain; but will vary hugely between individuals and will be influenced by previous experiences, emotional states and certain beliefs.
When discussing pain, we tend to distinguish it into two main forms: acute and chronic pain.
Acute pain can be mild or severe, lasts for a fairly short time and is described as sharp, shooting or throbbing pain.
Chronic pain occurs daily and may continue for months or even years. It is described as a dull, throbbing or aching type pain and in this case; tissue damage may not be the only concern.
Acute pain is associated with a clear understanding of where the pain is and how the injury happened. The pain signals produced is the body’s natural warning system, to prevent further damage occurring.
On the other hand, with chronic pain there is a less clear picture, it does not correlate so clearly with tissue damage, and tends to remain a lot longer after the original injury has resolved. In this situation, the brain continues to produce pain signals, even once the tissue damage has resolved. Therefore, suggesting an issue with the body’s ability to process pain, resulting in a more complex situation. The nervous system sensitivity is heightened, resulting in pain being experienced a lot more easily and with greater consistency!
When dealing with this type of situation in clinic, it is vital to take a holistic approach with the patient; looking at all aspects of the individual’s life and how they may be influencing how they are feeling and the experience of pain.
The bio-psychosocial model of pain explains how the experience of pain is the result of a dynamic interaction between physiological, psychological and social factors. All of which may contribute to a worsening clinical picture.
Factors which need to be considered within the bio-psychosocial model include thoughts and emotions, and diet and lifestyle factors, such as, alcohol, smoking and activity level. In addition, stepping back and looking at the bigger picture, and when exactly the pain started. Was there anything specific going on at that period, for example, there may be a link between a stressful period and a worsening of symptoms?
Identifying and understanding these deeper emotions can help aid the recovery process.
Another important factor to consider is physical activity and function. Pain itself and the fear of pain can cause you to avoid certain physical or social activities, which may affect social relationships and mobility, potentially causing further pain. Therefore, aiding the individual through pain free movements is necessary to build up their confidence in themselves, gradually retraining the body and mind to be able to carry out certain activities.
If you have been suffering from pain, then come in and see how we can help you. We will explain exactly what is going on, advice will be given on how best to handle the situation and any factors which may be playing a part will be identified and addressed.
You are not imagining your pain, and we are here to ensure that a 360 approach to recovery is accessible to you, and we are with you each step of the way.