Why do things hurt?
“I cannot understand why this has happened”Is one of the most common things I hear from clients, What is going on and why?
We can shred ourselves trying to fit this puzzle together, why? Because if we can understand what has led to this problem then hopefully we can avoid it in the future.
Talking to someone external can help to untangle the thoughts but also get a slightly more objective look at the precipitating factors.
One of the issues is that a lot is stored in our unconscious brain, therefore we are unaware of it, but the brain knows about it. Pain is a warning system and pain maybe triggered by an unconscious memory; our brains are vigilant and want to keep us safe. So a set of circumstances may arise that mimic something that happened in the past; which may have led to pain or disability. So your brain will try to protect you from harm a second time around and it usually over does it! You may not consciously remember the initial incident, or you may know what it was but you are aware that it isn’t the same. The brain doesn’t always understand that either!
People often tell me that a problem started with a fall, surgery or car accident and that since that time physical problems have arisen. Sometimes clients spend years trying to find out what has been damaged to help understand how to manage the condition. Tissue damage heals in about 12 weeks (nerve damage takes a bit longer), so why does pain persist? A lot will depend on how badly traumatised you were, either physically or mentally. How well or badly you were helped at the time of the injury (or surgery) and also subsequently, plus how well you were at the time.
Your brain will remember and anything that looks faintly like the circumstances of the injury can set pain off again. Some people cannot drive the piece of road where they had an accident, or consider further surgery. All completely understandable; but what if there wasn’t an incident in the past?
We need to then look a bit more broadly than the physical at this point; yes there will be physical issues. It could be a habitual posture, an area of stiffness and we have to make sure nothing sinister is occurring. After that looking at medication then habits of diet and exercise, how stressful is work or home life? A big thing is lack of confidence in our bodies, will it let us down, will we be able to cope? This is especially true with ageing; but also after a painful episode of some kind. I see a lot of people who catastrophise about what is happening; I always take heed of the words clients use to describe what is happening. It is a great way to start understanding how they see themselves and it helps me to find the best way to help them.
Quite often I see my work as rebuilding damaged confidence in our bodies, finding that strong resilient person inside. This is a combination of treatment physically and exercises but also looking at attitudes and habits and seeing what is serving you and what may need to be modified.
We will probably never know absolutely precisely what the triggering factors were for the current problem, but we can have a look and untie a few knots both physically and mentally and this will help a lot.
Have a look at this video by the amazing Professor Lorimer Moseley about something that happened to him and the subsequent consequences. He is a brilliant pain scientist and even he couldn’t quite understand quite why his body reacted to the degree it did after the second incident. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gwd-wLdIHjs&t=21s