Hello and welcome to this week’s blog, part two of How to be Pain Free. Last week I mentioned that pain can be the result of something else other than physical reasons…
This type of pain is complicated, and while I may be able to recognise it in you, I cannot diagnose it. It is simply pain from a variety of sources, such as your mental health, stressors from your life, including your job and family, and sometimes because you expect to be in pain, and so your body creates it for you.
An interesting case a few years ago, demonstrating what I mean, was seen at Leicester Royal Infirmary. A builder attended A&E with a nail through his boot where he had stepped on it. He was writhing in pain, absolute agony, but knew better than to remove the nail or take the boot off by himself.
After being carefully assessed, it was found that upon removing the boot, that the nail had not penetrated the builder’s toes, foot, or skin. In fact, his foot was in perfect condition, and the nail had travelled through his boot and sock, and up between his toes, not even touching them.
So why the pain?
Simply… because he expected it. That’s it. He expected pain, he responded traumatically to what he thought had happened and so his brain created the pain to warrant what the builder believed.
While I cannot directly treat the reasons for your expectation of the pain, I can soothe the muscles responding to the information your brain is giving them and point you in the direction of a counsellor.
Not long ago, a woman visited me for excruciating pain in her legs and believed it to be sciatica. We discovered that she had suffered sciatica years ago, and this felt so similar that she assumed that it was the same again. She said that as soon as a twinge occurred, she panicked that it would be the same and then things got very painful, very quickly. She told me that she also developed a complex psychological response to the previous pain, needing counselling, because she was finding pain when it had physiologically resolved. I performed the massage she needed to soothe her irritated muscles and sent her away with instructions to revisit her doctor and explain what might be happening. Her sciatica completely resolved soon afterwards.
Another example is that I have treated a young gentleman who can play computer games for several hours and sits at the same computer to complete work assignments from home. But- he is in a lot of pain with his glutes and his back during the working, not the gaming, even when he is fresh to the task. We have determined together that he does not enjoy his job, and that his body is responding to his aversion of it by creating pain to move him away from it.
While these are just two examples of what I am talking about, biopsychosocial pain is complicated and can be resultant of many factors, including your social situation, your mental health, and your physical health.
If you think you could possibly be experiencing this, speak with your GP in the first instance.
Other types of pain come from other factors in your life, such as poor nutrition, poor situational posture, repetitive work, no exercise, too much exercise, lack of sunshine, lack of movement in general, and many more.
Which factors affect you the most, and do you have a regular pain that gets in the way of you living your life?
What is stopping you from finding a solution to it?
How to be Pain Free
Everyone’s solution to this will be different.
The first step to being pain free, is being completely honest with yourself about your life and how you live it, and what could be contributing to your pain. And being able to answer yes to all of the following…
- love your job?
- regularly at work?
- have hobbies?
- keep active?
- vary your activity?
- practise self-care?
- seek support for ongoing issues?
If you answered no to any of the above, start there and see what difference that makes to you initially. Don’t know where to start? Exercise and activity. Go for a walk and get away from technology.
Speaking with a professional is really important when you do not know what to do. I help a lot of clients get out of muscular and soft tissue pain, because that is my expertise. I strongly advocate movement in its many different guises and have found that it is the number one solution to nearly all cases I have.
But not everyone is a fan of …
But not everyone is a fan of movement… I hear this a lot. Not everyone is a fan of exercise… I hear this a lot too. And a lot of people are not fans of getting sweaty… wow, do I hear that one a lot. But you know what? You already move. You move out of your bed, you move to get dressed, you move to get to work, to shop, to go out for dinner. You’re always moving, but it is the quality and quantity of the movement that needs to be addressed. So why not make movement a necessary way to recover from pain?
And as for getting sweaty? Well you already do that when your body gets hot in the summer, and on those foreign holidays. And you’re washing every day anyway… so why not make the wash really worth it and get sweaty beforehand?
The trick to getting healthy movement into your daily routine, is to make it fun, and to make it as much as a part of your day as eating your lunch.
Find out what works for you, whether it is solo exercise in your living room, or dragging a friend to the new clubbercize class that you found out about.
Recovery is not linear
Recovery is not linear either, you could make great progress one week, and feel back to square one the next, pressing on despite that is key. Many cases of pain not resolving come down to broken recovery plans and people giving up on ever feeling better.
A small number of clients of mine need regular massage treatment to handle their pain alongside their exercise and activity regime, and that is fine too. When you understand the placement of massage in your plan, rather than using it as a sticking plaster to bump you along, it can be a valuable tool.
Please do remember that while I discuss being pain free, that it does not include people suffering with disease, or other complicated issues, that need to be handled by a doctor and other medical professionals.
Is it Time to Take Action?
Has anything I’ve written struck a chord with you?
What action are you going to commit to taking today?
You have got the power to change how you feel.
Go and change it!
Thank you for reading and if you have any question please get in touch, see you soon,
See you soon,