Pain…is it good or bad?

Here is a question I get every day, “What is pain? Why do I have it?”
Have you ever rolled your ankle? Or gotten a blister? What about a tooth ache? Those are all pretty common reasons to have pain. In my line of work, I see the following everyday:

  • Low back pain

  • neck pain

  • knee pain

  • shoulder pain

  • pelvic pain

My patients with the above pain reports come in typically confused, aggravated, irritated, or depressed because they are unsure of what pain really is and why they are experiencing it. This new pain, or this progressing old pain, is now limiting them from performing the things they love to do. In the clinic I am at, the following are the top reasons I see the above pain:

  • Low back pain- Poor body mechanics with lifting heavy things. Progressive low back pain (have had it for years). New back pain from lifting too heavy in the gym.

  • Neck pain- poor postures while sitting at the desk. Too much stress in day to day life and the muscles tighten. Motor vehicle accident.

  • Knee pain- Post operative. Have had either a total knee replacement, meniscus repair, or are still battling lack of mobility from an old surgery.

  • Shoulder pain- Osteoarthritis. Rotator cuff tear/repair. Humerus (arm) fracture.

  • Pelvic pain- pain post having a baby. Pain during intercourse. Fibromyalgia or vulvodynia pain.

Do any of the above apply to you? If so, then you are definitely not alone. 100% of people get some kind pain at some point in their life. We all feel it. But the real question behind it is still, What is it and how do we control it?
There are tons of articles out there telling you exactly what you need to know about what pain is. So many places to read about it on the internet, but be careful. You truly cannot believe everything on the internet. I recommend only reading the advice of medical doctors, physical therapists, or pain specialists due to the background and education we have in pain science. However, if you are not a healthcare professional, clearly these don’t help you and they do not make sense because of the terminology. I would urge you to utilize the following resources for your benefit to educate yourself on what pain is:

Those are 3 resources I utilize with my patients to educate them on what pain is and I see tremendous results. The thing is, I can sit here and tell you what pain is all day, but you need to understand it for yourself as well. Pain is a GOOD thing because it tells you that something is wrong. It is a very NORMAL sensation. However, if pain persists or does not go away that is when we run into some difficulties with treatments and management. You want to make sure you understand fully what it is you are feeling so that you can treat it appropriately.
So, you read the above book and watched the video so you know what pain is. Now what? Well, as much as you hate to, the best thing for chronic/persistent pain is movement. Also, do not be afraid of movement if you have new pain either. The majority of us think if it hurts do not do it. That is not always a true statement. This movement needs to be scaled though, meaning you start out slow. Progress slow. A Physical Therapist would best help you do this appropriately, but try the following:

  • Walk a little bit each day. Start with 5 minutes. Then progress to 10. Then progress to 15. Until you get to your desired walking frame.

    • This is going to help your body “reset” from the pain you have been feeling and will help you get back to your normal activities.

  • Try some VERY LIGHT stretching and flexibility. Depending on your condition and the region of pain, you may want to see a physical therapist to get the proper ones for you. Otherwise, please send me an e-mail so I can get to know you and guide you in the right direction.

  • Do not over do it. Yes, there is such thing as TOO MUCH exercise just like there is too little. You must get back into it, but going too hard will only cause you more problems.

  • Be patient. Do not rush your body’s healing process. Everyone is different. If you have had this pain for 2 days, 6 weeks, 9 months, or even 10 years your body still needs time to adjust. You must be patient, give yourself adequate rest breaks, and allow yourself to get there.

  • Work on your mindset. I cannot tell you how many times a day I have patients begin meditation, relaxation training, or diaphragmatic breathing. The reason is because it can decrease your pain levels to allow for you to move. It also helps you to have a positive mindset. We all know positive mindsets will get you much further than a negative one!

Please note, that the above is not to be utilized as medical advice and will be different for each individual case. It is most written for those who are suffering with chronic/persistent pain and need some kind of re-introduction back into exercise or movement. If you have new pain, your introduction is a bit different. You will want to get rid of the swelling first, and slowly get back into activity. Quad sets, glute sets, and ankle pumps are always good go-to’s even if you cannot walk or stand due to the pain.
I would love to discuss anything given further, and would love to hear your comments on how you have educated yourself on pain, what resources you utilize, and what you are doing to combat it.
I hope you have a fantastic rest of your week!
<3 <3 <3 <3

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