Persistent pain is something that a lot of people in this country are living with. You may not know it from the outside, as they still continue to do the everyday things that they need to do, but it is only when you get talking to them, that you realise the struggles that they deal with, living with pain almost every day.
But why can pain persist so long and how come some people get injured or end up with pain that goes away but for others it doesn’t and can last for years.
Over the next few blogs I’m going to be talking about why this can happen, why some of the things that people have tried to help have not worked and what can be done to help people who are living with persistent pain get back to living with less or no pain.
Why pain can persist for so long?
To answer this we need to first look at why we get pain in the first place. Ultimately, pain exists to protect you and without pain we would live a very difficult and possibly short life. If you think about what happens when you stand to close to a fire….
However, it is important to know that pain does not always go hand in hand with damage to your body. Meaning, you can have pain without doing any damage or injury to your body and this is what happens with nearly all persistent pain problems
If you know of anyone who has ever suffered with back pain.and got a flare up of back pain by bending down to pick up a sock…. it is hardly the weight of picking up the sock that caused all the resulting pain in the back.
What happens is that your body and brain is constantly evaluating information through your nerves that come from your sensory organs such as your skin, your eyes, your nose and your ears. It evaluates all this information subconsciously (without your control) and it works off such things as previous experiences, previous injuries or pain, your thoughts, your emotions, your fears, where your are and what you are doing. All of these things have an input into whether your brain decides to give you an experience of pain or not.
A easy way of understanding this is by thinking of someone who has had back pain before. Originally, they may have hurt their back bending and lifting something awkwardly or too heavy. Naturally they will then be very cautious and nervous of this movement in the future and will move slowly and carefully.
However, this slow and careful movement is not possible all the time and one day, when they are tired or have to move suddenly their back may go into spasm and they get a lot pain because their body has remembered the previous experience of back pain and feels it needs to protect it from happening again. Really a big over reaction from the brain.
The guard in the warehouse
A nice example of this is imagining pain to be a guard in a warehouse. Their job is to protect the warehouse by sounding an alarm. Normally the guard is very relaxed and sits with his feet up watching a screen. But, if the warehouse got robbed a few days ago then that guard is going to be on high alert, listening for every sound and is more likely to sound the alarm at even the slightest of noises.
This is what can happen when your are living with persistent pain. One day you can be fine and moving around and the next your are in a lot of pain, even though you didn’t do anything to cause such a level of pain. Something as simple as a poor nights sleep, a fast movement or a stressful day at work that can be enough to ‘sound this alarm’ in your body and set off that pain signal.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel
The reason I am going through all this is because I want you to know that there is light at the end of the tunnel and people who are living with persistent pain, can be helped and can get their life back in order. If you can understand the reasons why you may be getting a flare up of pain then you can look to address these and set about preventing them from happening in the future.
Persistent pain is more about sensitivity in your body rather than damage in your body. Think if it as a dimmer switch that is turned way too brightly. We need to try and turn down the sensitivity in your body and then work towards building good movement, strength and look to resolve any factors that may be turning that dimmer switch back up.
This is something that we help people with on a daily basis at Midlands Physio & Back Pain Clinic and with the right plan, some hard work and dedication it can be achieved.
In next weeks blog I’ll be discussing the three big things that you need to first know in order to help you get back to living the life that you want to life without pain always getting in the way.Click here to request a call back