A few things over the past two weeks have me thinking a little more deeply about pain. There’s ample research coming out right now that continues to refine and define our clinical understand of pain and it’s never as cut and dry as we’d like to make it.
In a recent web blast from Susi Hatley, yoga instructor and owner of Functional Synergy she clearly defined her present thoughts on pain – a paragraph of which I felt was definitely worth sharing and considering!
“My clients and teachers I train learn that pain is a sign of limitation or overall dysfunctional movement patterns, of wonky neuromuscular and while quick fixes can provide short term relief, they often don’t provide long term sustainable change. In turn, by not resolving the underlying issues, a person can send up with cyclical patterns of pain which turn into persistent patterns of ongoing pain.
My point is that all of this can shift and change. Short term or long term, the niggling occasional bout of pain can be resolved.”
I also linked Stop Chasing Pain to my last blog post. Perry Nickelston writes a number of excellent articles on his page and is a well regarded Chiropractic Physician with an incredible list of accolades behind his name. Combined with my observations of both my own recovery from injury as well as what I see in the clinic I’ve been pondering pain a little more deeply the concept of not chasing pain.
While “not chasing pain” as a clinician is what’s allowed me to look at the entire person instead of single mindedly focusing on exactly the pain is, I think in some cases there is definitely some merit to addressing the painful area! There can be real damage done to an area that continues to wreak havoc throughout the entire body. On the other hand, there can be physical compensation patterns, emotional holding patterns, mental barriers that need to be addressed as well.
There are a variety of prescriptive treatments clients have asked my opinion on recently that offer claims that this or that methodology can heal whatever pain ails you – I have to say, this isn’t always the case. It’s typically moderately successful and recently through a number of conversations with clients and close colleagues, I’ve come to really appreciate that there is definitely an art to the science of medicine. There is no one shot fixes all and sometimes where the pain is can actually be the problem!
Art is intricate and complex. As much as we would like to simplify healing down to one simple action or set of actions or ONE thing you need to do for your health or ONE theory to stand behind, as Susi said, your being is always shifting or changing and when it comes to healing an injury, sometimes you have to shift and change with it.
Change can be scary. Fear of change is another post for another time so keep an eye out for it 😉 but for now, consider that might be true and ponder how it impacts how you think about your injury.
So what to do? If you can, start by really looking at it yourself. It takes a lot to sit quietly and be able to recognize and acknowledge the tension you are holding in a certain area of your body or acknowledge you might be weaker than you’d like to admit.
It might be that the area that is painful is actually really WHERE the pain is – the question is why? What are you doing or thinking that is resulting in painful sensation? What injuries have you had that you haven’t acknowledged or allowed to heal? What could be the reasons behind the pain? What feedback have you been given about your healing and your body that you may be resisting?
One of the best things you can do for your health care clinician is a little detective work on your own – not only is active involvement in healing clinically provided to deliver better outcomes and resolve the issue at its source – two brains are better than one and you can then make better time and use of the hard earned money you spend working with your physiotherapist (athletic therapist, chiropractor, osteopath, naturopath, personal trainer etc…) if you come to them prepared.
Once you have some information, then source out the appropriate actions to take to help progress your healing on that day, in that moment. Find clinicians that listen to you, give you options and meet you where you are at. That’s the art. There’s a lot of science that is coming out to support this now. When you are actively involved in your treatment, feel listened and respected by your therapist(s) and are willing to be a little bit uncomfortable (remember, change is scary!) that is where the magic of healing happens.
N.B: I just like the word magic when it comes to healing. I know that there are a host of physiological changes that occur to heal our bodies but to watch a being heal from any injury is sometimes just incredibly magical, the fact that our bodies are such wonderful, marvellous healing machines. Let’s just take a minute to appreciate that shall we?