Understanding Pain

When you’re in pain, it is hard to think about much else. It can prevent you from living a full life, so it’s important to seek help.

The first step to feeling better is to understand what pain is. Pain is a sensation created by your brain when it concludes that you are injured or are in danger of injury because of “threat” signals it receives from your muscles, joints, ligaments, and organs. This makes pain one of your body’s protective mechanisms, so you should not follow the saying “no pain, no gain” because pain may indicate that something is wrong. The trick to relieving pain is to determine what the actual or potential damage is and then fix it.

Pain often does not match the amount of tissue damage. For example, many people describe feeling no pain when they have a limb severed from their body, while paper cuts are excruciating. Similarly, X-rays and MRIs do not always correlate with what a person feels. Those with herniated intervertebral discs may have no pain, while others with no findings on imaging are in horrible pain.

Although usually protective, the pain system can be inaccurate. Pain can be persistent or increased from a vicious cycle that you can stop. For many, pain remains not because there is continuing tissue damage but because of negative thoughts, seeing countless health professionals without improvement, or doing nothing about your pain. Also, fear is a powerful element behind chronic pain that can increase pain, whether it is fear of re-injury, disability, or pain itself.

If you are in pain, seek help!

  • Pain is different for every person. Therefore, it is important that your treatment be specific to you.
  • After injury, your tissues are weaker and damaged so they are more sensitive to physical stress. Therefore, you need to pace yourself and be persistent in rebuilding your tissue’s health. And be patient – it takes time for your tissues to heal.
  • “Motion is lotion!” Your body is designed for movement, which may help reduce your pain. However, pain can also affect how you move, causing you to develop poor movement patterns that may cause more problems.
  • Don’t chase or focus on the pain but take control of it. It is important to understand why you are experiencing pain and how you can help yourself get better.
  • Physical therapists are experts in pain related to movement. We can help evaluate the source of pain and design an efficient plan to help with pain and function.

For more information on how a physical therapist can help with your pain, visit us at www.sptny.com or contact us at info@sptny.com

Sports PT is proud to invest in teaching and mentoring students of physical therapy throughout New York State. To learn more about the student experience, visit here.