Posted on July 8, 2014
“I’ve always had this pain…it’s never going away.”
Have you been diagnosed with chronic pain? You are in the company of more than 50 million people in the United States living with chronic pain. It is the number one cause of adult disability in the US.3 Does your pain cause you stress or change your behaviors? Does it affect your relationships and your ability to work? Two thirds of people with chronic pain believe that pain disrupts their lives.3 There are many myths and misunderstandings about chronic pain leading to frustrated people who may feel hopeless about ever changing their pain. The therapists at CSSPT are well educated about pain (both chronic and acute) and may be able to help you deal with chronic pain.
There have been studies that show that educating yourself about chronic pain may actually reduce your need for medical treatment and intervention.2 Pain is your body’s most powerful defense mechanism – designed to protect your tissues from damage and alert your brain to damage that may have occurred. One thing to take into consideration is that pain is generated from your brain! As David Butler says in his book “Explain Pain” – “No brain, no pain”.1 Even if tissue damage is present, the brain generates the signals that cause your pain. In turn, the brain can also generate those signals even if no tissue damage is present. This is often what happens with chronic pain – even though there may not be any tissue damage, your brain is still sending sending out pain signals. This means that the amount of pain that you experience isn’t always related to the amount of tissue damage that is occurring. We’ve all heard the stories of people with horrific injuries that feel no pain and we’ve all had the tiny paper cut that is extremely painful!
Your tissues are supposed to change over time – this is normal and should not be painful! With chronic pain, your brain may be receiving inaccurate information about the tissues or tissue changes and the pain pathways or mechanisms are altered. Pain can also be worsened by your environment, stressful life situations, and even by imaging. Imagine you get an x-ray of your back and it shows arthritis – suddenly, your back may be a lot more painful that it was before you knew there were degenerative changes. Just because you see something on an x-ray or MRI does not mean that the cause of your pain has been found!
Educating yourself about your anatomy, your pain, and what you can do about it is a critical part of dealing with chronic pain. Our physical therapists can help teach you about your pain and how to safely exercise – which is a great way to help your body relearn to respond to tissue changes without pain.
If you have chronic pain, call CSSPT for an evaluation – our PTs experience and knowledge will help you work, live, and play…again!