The concept of pain and pain management and treatment keeps coming up for me. It is arguably the most common presenting complaint in my practice and one I am seeking to expand my knowledge on.
I want to recap the most salient points I have learnt about thus far.
1. Pain is real.
Your pain experience is yours alone. no one can fully understand it, measure it, define it- but you. And if you are experiencing it then it is very, very real.
2. Pain CAN change.
Pain is described as being noviplastic in nature. That means it can change over time. It can get worse, but it can also get better. It is not a static construct that defines your existence.
3. The pain experience matters.
Imagine 2 scenarios involving you stubbing your toe:
A) rushing to get showered after a poor night’s sleep and big argument with a loved one. The water has just turned cold, you’ve run out of shampoo and as you reach to get the refill you bang your toe against the washroom door.
B) You are strolling down a sandy path towards friends waving to you from the beach. You are holding your favourite drink in one hand while taking in a beautiful sunset. Your foot catches on a wooden post lining the path and your big toe takes the brunt of the impact.
Same force, different scenarios- which toe hurts more?
Instinctively, we say option A.
Because what else is going on always impacts the pain experience.
4. Pain that has lasted for more than 12 weeks is classified as persistent pain.
Central processing changes have started taking place. That means that the brain is magnifying sensations in order to protect you. Actual tissue damage is no longer the main issue, instead pain is a means of communicating perceived threat or danger.
5. Seek out practitioners that will discuss multiple contributing factors to your pain experience.
They will ask what pain means to YOU and how it impacts your life and ultimately what goals you want to set for yourself.
6. Sensory integration is a strategy that helps re-introduce normal touch and tolerance to pressures and movements through the tissues.
Nerves, muscles, connective tissue all need to re-learn ‘normal’ The aim is to restore this function using pleasurable touch, allowing your brain and body to lower their defenses.
Ask your PT about sensory integration if you are experiencing persistent pain.