I have heard pain be described as “misery leaving the body.” I like this description. It is very goal oriented and driven. And it carries with it an underlying tone of optimism. For some reason, I almost feel patriotic when I hear it. After examining and treating many thousands of people in pain, I have made a few observations about how people handle pain that I would like to share.
Upon facing any type of pain syndrome, the vast majority of people want it gone. I know this is quite obvious and is the healthiest response to pain. Think about it. If you put your hand on a hot stove, your body is going to remove that hand before you have a second to think about it. The immediate pain response here is called acute pain, also known as new and recent pain.
Bending the wrong way and “throwing out” your back is an example of acute pain. Getting into a car accident and having a headache afterward is another example of acute pain.
The most common response to acute pain is to do whatever it takes to make it go away. And that is the correct response! Research shows that the moment pain sets in, pain nerve signals (called nocioceptors) begin to grow at the site of the injury. The longer the pain exists, the greater the chance of them becoming chronic and the person developing long lasting pain.
So, do not ignore your pain! You are not tough or cool for letting pain hang out in your body. Do what you can, as naturally as possible, to get rid of it. Acupuncture is proven to be a very effective way of dealing with pain. Acupuncture improves circulation thereby preventing some of those nasty nerve fibers from developing.
What happens when the pain doesn’t go away?
Chronic Pain – The Monster Within
Remember when we were talking about those pain nerve signals? Remember their names? NOCIOCEPTORS!!! Well, the longer the pain hangs around in your body, the more the actual nerve pain receptors sprout and grow. Yes, the pain nerves actually increase. This phenomenon is called neuroplasticity. These nerve pain fibers spread like wild fire in and around the site of injury. They expand and begin to create noise in your brain. Why would this happen? The nerves are signals are trying to turn up the volume loud enough so you will finally do something about removing the pain!
And this is the case for all types of pain, both physical and mental. The longer it is present, the longer it takes to eliminate it.
Whether it is physical or mental, if you suffer with chronic pain be patient with yourself! It is going to take time. However, with the commitment to eliminate your pain you will find solutions. Do something every day to get to the cause of it and to treat it.
Be careful with medications as they carry adverse side effects and often cover up pain without ever getting to the cause of the pain.
I have found the solution to chronic pain consists of the following 5 ingredients:
- Get to the source of the pain. Figure out where the pain is coming from. Know the monster is you are dealing with and the monster will become less of a monster.
- Commit to resolving the pain. Empower yourself with the statement: “I am going to be pain free!”
- Do something every day to address the cause of the pain. If the pain is in your back this means each day find one or more activities to work on the pain. Examples include going to the chiropractor, the physical therapist, exercising, eating an anti-inflammatory diet, taking a yoga class, and the list goes on!
- Be Patient – It will take time and the pain will go away!
- Stay positive – Don’t own the pain or carry it as your cross. Easier said than done. You will get there!