WHAT IS PAIN TRYING TO TELL US?
Tid Bits of Info
- Pain is the brain’s way of telling someone that they have experienced tissue damage or are going to experience it without a change in activity.
- The ability for someone to deal with pain depends on physiological, psychological and socioeconomic factors.
- In acute and sub-acute musculoskeletal injuries the inflammatory process causes painful stimuli.
- The word Pain could be interchanged with Danger when discussing the symptom with the injured patient.
- Seek the advice and treatment of a Physical Therapist if you are in pain.
We’ve all experienced some type of pain in our lives, and some of us experience pain on a daily basis. It can range from a nagging irritation to a physical limitation to severe debilitation. There are both physical and emotional aspects of pain, and the challenge is finding an effective pain management solution that prevents further injury while also providing relief for those suffering. Physical Therapists focus on alleviating pain by assessing underlying symptoms and developing an appropriate treatment plan.
Pain can be understood as an unpleasant sensory or emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage. People can feel pain with or without tissue damage. When the perception of pain occurs, it should be respected and managed but never ignored because it is the brain’s way of telling someone that they have tissue damage or are about to have it.
There are three main causes of pain in most athletes and the general public:
- Acute Injuries
- Over-use injuries
- Sub-acute and Chronic Injuries
Acute injury leads to tissue damage, inflammation, bruising and onset of pain. Over-use injuries are a result of healthy tissue or partially damaged tissue being exposed to too much force and not enough rest time. Inflammation of the damaged tissue causes pain. Sub-acute and chronic injuries are a result of damaged tissue that continues to be exposed to too much force. Often times these injuries occur at the same site and in most instances the damage gets worse with each incident.
Any injury can lead to the onset of pain and in many cases, the person involved is negatively affected to a point that reduces their functional capabilities to some extent. Almost every aspect of their life can be adversely affected.
Healthcare professionals have taken a different approach to treat pain in the past decade. In the “old days,” the treatment focused on the biomedical causes of pain. The treatment approach was to deal with the physiological aspect of pain and very little consideration was given to the psychological or social aspect of pain.
In “today’s world” there is significant emphasis placed on both of these factors when treating someone who is experiencing pain. Addressing the anxiety, fear, and uncertainty that is associated with an injury that causes pain is a major step in managing the symptoms and rehabilitation efforts. Healthcare professionals cannot assume that their patient understands what has happened to their body when an injury occurs. Discussing everything that is associated with the injury helps to relieve all of the physical and mental symptoms that are present with an injury that causes someone to experience pain.
Pain should not be ignored and when dealing with it there are some ways to speak to the patient that will better prepare them to deal with the symptom. Explaining to the person who is experiencing pain that it is the brain’s way to inform them that damage has occurred or will occur to a specific body part if they continue to perform the same activities that have produced the symptom in the first place.
Pain should be considered a warning symptom and attempting to defend against further damage. Treating the symptom immediately is important. The specific protocols for treating pain might include a reduction in activity for a period of time. Eliminating the cause that lead to the onset of pain is the ultimate goal of rehabilitation but addressing and treating the symptoms should be the first phase.
Physical Therapists are great at treating pain. It is the number one symptom that is treated in every Physical Therapy center in the world. These healthcare professionals can develop a treatment plan that will control and usually eliminate the symptoms and address the true cause of the problem. They will use modalities, hands on techniques, exercise and education to help the patient experience a reduction in their painful symptoms. The final goal of treatment is to restore someone to their pre-injury status as soon as possible. Visiting a Physical Therapist does not require a doctor’s prescription for therapy but your insurance plan might require a referral from your family doctor.
Pain is a part of life and it should be treated and managed to prevent further damage to a particular body part. Addressing the symptom from the physiological, psychological and socio-economic aspect will better prepare the injured person to handle the adverse effects of living in pain. The time that is required to eliminate the symptom can be drastically different in everyone and the patient should know that this is perfectly normal.