Redefining Pain for Better Outcomes
Pain science is changing. Long held beliefs surrounding the cause and treatment of pain are being shown to simply not be true. This is great news for those suffering from acute or chronic pain. By redefining these three aspects of pain we can create better treatments and solutions to provide long term, sustainable pain relief.
1) Pain is a symptom – not a diagnosis. Much like a cough and runny nose are symptoms of the flu, pain is the symptom of a larger problem. You can take all the cough drops and decongestants you want to help with your cough but these treatments don’t help fight the underlying cause of the cough – the virus, the bacteria, etc. Similarly, pain can be treated with pain killers, chiropractic treatments, and other modalities but until we find and correct the underlying cause of the pain it will likely return.
Why it matters? Relying on passive treatments to manage symptoms creates short term relief – and fails to produce long term results.
2) Pain Does Not Reflect the Damage Done to the Body.
It’s long been held that the severity of pain we experience correlates with the amount of damage done to our body. More pain = more severe. Less pain = Less Severe. This simply isn’t the case. Easy example has been proven through the use of X-Ray’s and MRI. Researchers have found that the severity of degeneration found in one’s spine has no correlation to the pain the patient is experiencing. Many people with severe degeneration have no back pain. Others in severe pain have no signs of degeneration. The purpose of pain is to motivate protective behaviors, not to act as a reflection of the damage done to our tissues
Why it matters? Pain relief can be achieved through mental programming. Recognizing that pain is a feeling, and not an objective state of the damage done, can aid in recovery.
3) Pain isn’t only a physical response to injury, but a mental one as well -Two individuals suffering the same injury can have dramatic differences in pain levels. Past injuries, expectations for recovery, even socioeconomic factors have been shown to affect how individuals recover from pain.
Why is matters? Simple solutions can be added to traditional treatment programs for long term pain relief (improving job satisfaction, limiting stress, improving diet, not smoking etc).
When we begin to look at pain in this light, we can come up with better solutions. We understand that long term, sustainable pain relief can never be achieved through drugs, surgery, endless chiropractic adjustments or soft tissue therapies. That chronic pain can be managed with active, movement based therapies along with mental programming to improve the overall health and quality of life of our communities.