Pain….. why does it hurt so much?
I received a lovely email this week thanking me for making someone feel so much better.
What did I do? IMO – not very much…. I just asked some questions and then explained what I thought might be going on and what I thought might be a good idea to try.
To put things into context – I received a call from someone we have worked with in the past. They described back pain which came on after doing a lot of something they don’t normally do, we chatted for a bit, I made a few suggestions and said goodbye. 12 hours later, here’s a small cut and paste from their email…
Thanks so much for the chat this morning. You are a wonder worker. Already your advice has made a big improvement for me. Thank you.
Why? Well that’s the thing – the pain that was being experienced is a combination of lots of things. In this case, my impression is that doing something that they hadn’t done before, quite a lot of it, meant that they were feeling places that they hadn’t felt for a while. The resultant sensation wasn’t nice, which was then made a huge amount worse by worry, anxiety and fear. Worry about why it was so painful, anxiety that they won’t be able to do something special in a few weeks time and fear that there is something seriously wrong. This had been going on for about a week and things weren’t getting better.
Pain is complicated. Hopefully this story illustrates that for such a quick turn around of the severity of pain and improvement in symptoms that this was brought around by how the problem was interpreted and dealt with. In this case having the confidence that it was OK to keep moving and try some very simple exercises combined with reasoning that nothing was seriously wrong meant that the problem had reduced significantly. Sometimes it helps to reason what might have caused the problem, what was aggravating and easing it and what might help to improve things.
There are lots of experts who can explain it better than I can, I’ve included some of the video’s below. This example is meant to show how sometimes a bit of simple advice and explanation can make a huge difference.
Here’s a few video’s from experts in the field explains the complexity of pain.
Why do we hurt?
Do we actually experience pain, or is it merely illusion?
In this TEDx talk, Lorimer Moseley explores these questions, and position the pain that we feel as our bodies’ way of protecting us from damaging tissues further.
He also looks at what this might mean for those who suffer from chronic pain.
Understanding Pain: Brainman chooses
An animated video on managing pain.
The video was produced by a team from Hunter Integrated Pain Service (HIPS), University of South Australia, University of Washington and Hunter Medicare Local (Hunter ML)
Our fears and beliefs about pain
Jack describes to Prof Peter O’Sullivan about how he had chronic back pain.
He was told he had a back of a 70 year old, he needed fusion surgery and couldn’t play sport .
He now does manual work with little pain – he tells his story of re-gaining his life.