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"Breaking the Cycle: Strategies for Managing Persistent Pain"

Everyone knows what pain is and will experience it in their lives, it’s a normal and important sensation needed for survival that protects us from harm but also tell us if any structural damage has occurred.

Pain is fully governed by the nervous system and brain. No Brain, No Pain. This gives pain a complex interplay between mechanical, emotional, and sensory stimulus which creates the pain we experience.

A good way to think of pain is like an alarm, it’s telling you something is not quite right and to act on it. For example, if you put your hand into an open flame, you experience a painful burning sensation, so you pull your hand away before any burns have occurred. This is normal.

However just like a faulty smoke alarm that won’t stop beeping after the smoke has been cleared or a sensitive car alarm that goes off from a slight touch, our pain ‘alarm’ can become overactive, which is very much the case for persistent and long-term pain.

When we experience pain for a long time, there are changes to our brain and nervous system, to take in more information from our environment; we tend to ‘feel things’ in that area easier. For example, those with long term back pain feel their back as soon as they do anything physical, because they are so focused on protecting their back, they are much more sensitive to any stress on it.

Chronic pain cycle

So to work on this, we need to retrain our ‘alarm’ (ie brain and nervous system), this is different for each person, which is why in rehab, we treat the person, not just the pathology or scan. Treating the person is a combination of retaining movements, modifying daily habits and behaviors, managing stressors in our lives (easier said than done) and strengthening our weak areas.

It all depends on the person but also a competent practitioner is needed to be able to identify what needs to be addressed and worked on.

It is usually much more than just ‘correcting’ one thing.


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