Because of the nature of our profession, we regularly see people in pain searching for answers as to why. Sometimes the reasons why are obvious and due to physical trauma. A slip on the ice, too much weight on a barbell or a car accident can be some classic examples of traumatic events that lead to pain and dysfunction. Far more often, people in pain have no such instances to point to, or they can only point to something benign; like bending over and placing a golf ball on a tee or putting laundry in the dryer. Essentially these instances are just the straw that broke the camel’s back.
The reality is that pain is multidimensional, complicated, and can have many contributing factors that don’t include just actual physical damage to tissues. It can be very difficult to discern the origin of the problem, since the site of pain can have very little to do with the actual source of the problem. The brain actually plays a very critical role in the pain process. That is because pain is essentially a conclusion made by the brain from a summary of information that it receives from the body. This conclusion is basically an alarm alerting us to take action and make some changes.
Compensation and avoidance are survival strategies that the brain and body seamlessly utilize to avoid pain or weakness. You twist an ankle, the body adapts and limps to avoid the pain. Your ankle feels better, the body seemingly adapts and the pain goes away. But that protective mechanism and compensation can often persist long after the pain is gone. Our bodies also compensate due to postural stresses, old injuries, or in order to combat our daily repetitive actions from work or play. These strategies are helpful and necessary in the short term to help produce pain free movement. However, when perpetuated for too long, or specifically stressed in a time of weakness, these strategies can overload an adjacent structure and cause pain; essentially sounding the alarm. When the alarm sounds… do something about it!! Often, the more you feel the same type of pain, the more sensitive your body becomes to it, and the more likely you are to feel it getting worse. So the earlier you do something about it, the better.
So what can we do? The good news is that there are many things we can do to put ourselves in better position to avoid pain and be comfortably active! Much of what we can do is intuitive, but many of us could use some guidance. Our bodies are extremely resilient and capable of amazing things when we take proper care of them. Good food, proper hydration, and adequate rest are some important aspects of the process. Learning proper breathing, stabilization, and movement strategies can also go a long way towards addressing or avoiding pain.
Having a good chiropractor or therapist is a very important piece of the puzzle. Because of the complicated nature of pain, we can help to identify the source of the problem and mitigate the severity and incidence of your pain. At Nelson Chiropractic and Pilates Center, due to the nature of our experience, expertise, and processes, we are very good at narrowing down the possible pain generators and treat accordingly. We follow up that treatment with specific exercises that act as both reinforcement to treatment and can serve to improve your confidence in using a painful area of the body. We also act as an important sounding board to help narrow down what might be harming you, how serious (or not serious) it is and give you strategies in what to avoid or improve. Once out of pain, we don’t need to see you often, but a regular check in is a great idea to keep all cylinders firing and can be part of a plan to avoid pain in the future.
Interested in hearing more? Ask one of us at Nelson Chiropractic and Pilates Center!
By: Dr. David Velez