Pain is a sensation that is triggered by chemicals that are released in the body where disease and injury has occurred.
The chemical mediators and irritants bind to receptors in the injured area which then send information to the brain that is comprehended as pain.
A pain response is both physical and psychological, as it is there to tell us that something is wrong. This will allow the body enough awareness to avoid harmful movements and activities, providing the body with a better environment to heal.
It is important to remember that pain does not always indicate tissue damage or harm. If you have persistent pain that has been lingering for weeks or months, it may not be an accurate indication that the tissue is actually damaged. Our brains and nervous system can become sensitive to pain that is long lasting.
This can create a vicious cycle of us believing that all movements are painful and that all pain is harmful. If you have been dealing with some persistent or chronic pain, give us a call. We can help you identify the difference between tissue injury and a phenomenon called sensitization. In the case of the latter, working through some of the pain may bring you closer to recovery!
Types of Pain
Acute Pain vs. Chronic Pain
Acute pain starts suddenly and is short-term, in response to a new injury or disease.
On the other hand, chronic pain lasts for a longer period of time. Chronic pain has further implications revolving around psychosocial factors and sensitization of the nervous system.
Phantom limb pain suggests there is pain in a part of the body that has been removed. The theory is that the bodies nervous system has preprogrammed pain pathways that have been established prior to amputation and the brain remembers these pathways even after the amputation.
Nerve pain (or ‘neurological pain’) happens when a nerve is damaged, compressed, or irritated. Some adjectives to describe nerve pain are lancing, burning, sharp, hot, and usually accompanied by symptoms of numbness and tingling and pins and needles.
Local Pain vs. Referred Pain
Local pain means the location of pain experiences is the same as the source of the pain. Referred pain is when pain from one part of your body is felt in another. This can be confusing for some people when they are told the area of pain is not the area of injury.
Mechanical vs. Chemical Pain
Pain can be experienced differently depending on the source. For example, pain that is felt only during specific movements or sustained postures when tissue is being stretched, compressed, or contracted, but relieved through other movements or postures.
Chemical pain is typically present during acute flare ups when there is inflammation present. In this case, there are no positions or movements that provide relief. Pain is usually eased when the inflammatory cascade has subsided.
Pain Management Treatment Options
1. Education: Understanding where your pain is coming from, specific triggers, and potential easing factors will allow for better strategies to manage your pain.
2. Manual therapy can help to modulate pain by decreasing spasm in muscles, easing mechanical stress on injured joints, and improving fluid exchange to decongest joints and soft tissue where swelling is present.
3. Therapeutic modalities such as ultrasound and transcutaneous electrical neuromuscular stimulation, as well as thermotherapy can help to decrease pain and promote healing.
4. Exercise therapy can often be the answer to your pain woes by improving mobility, decompressing joints, improving muscle stabilization, and enhancing flexibility.
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Our experienced clinicians work with you to develop a personalized approach to manage and treat many different types of pain.
Please contact us or book an appointment to learn more about how we can help you!