There’s More to Pain Than Just the Agony

Pain is the weakness leaving your body according to some T-shirts. However, pain is not a weakness at all. Pain is just in your head is what others say. Again, that is not the truth. No pain-no gain. My all time least favorite statement and, again, another false statement.

Pain is a real thing and the first thing that people who experience chronic pain need to know is that we, as providers, understand that pain is real and can be limiting. However, it is also important that our patients be open to the understanding that pain does not have to control their life–that they can control their pain.

Now, I won’t be able to completely explain chronic pain in one blog posting, but I’ll get into the very basics. First, draw a circle and put the word pain at the top of it. As you work your way around the circle clockwise, then write muscle guarding/inflammation, restricted mobility, muscle weakness, loss of function, anger/frustration and by then you’ve returned to pain.

So how do we help what appears to be an endless cycle? Through education, action and execution.

First, one must understand that movement or activity of the light to moderate level should not be feared. That, according to the literature, light to moderate activity is actually more likely to reduce pain than to increase pain through the release of endorphins (feel good chemicals) in the brain.

Second, put together and action plan to improve activity. This could be as simple as going to walk laps around a department store or mall. It could also be as fun as playing with the kids, grand kids or family pets.

This plan should be guided by a team that has been established to help you reach your goal of managing your pain. This team could include physicians, physical therapists, pain management MDs or even pain psychologists or psychiatrists.

Finally, execution. Putting your plan into place and sticking to the plan. I always tell patients that the first step the first day is the hardest. But that every first step each day becomes a little easier. Eventually the activity becomes a habit and the pain cycle can be broken.

When it comes to chronic pain, the first thing to understand is that you can control your pain and that pain does not have to control you.

Joel DeMaris, PT, DPT, CMTPT
Isanti Physical Therapy

January 26th, 2016

Posted In: General

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