Pain is a strange beast
Pain is a strange beast with so many different things affecting how you perceive it. It is, therefore, no surprise that most do not realise that it is primarily simply a warning that something might have happened.
Yes, pain doesn’t tell you that you have injured your self only that you might have!
How can this be I hear you ask?
Like many things, it’s all about context. There are conversations I have with friends that would be entirely inappropriate to have with others. This is because the shared, 40+ years in some cases, history isn’t there. They know I’m joking etc when it at first glance doesn’t sound like I am etc.
Pain is very like this. How you perceive it is based a lot on your own individual history. All your experiences, both in relation to painful events, both emotional and physical, illness and general social support, what you do for a living and more go into how you perceive pain.
As Sterling Archer says it’s all about the context and pain is very context based.
Regardless of this context, the same process happens. You do something that is potentially injurious, nerves are stimulated and messages relayed to the brain to let it know that something has happened.
At this point what you are currently doing, what has happened in the past in similar circumstances, how you feel that day, is your boss being a dick and so on and so forth are all added into the mix.
Only then might you feel pain.
A concert violinist gets a paper cut – most likely painful and comes with “oh for xxxxxxxx” and a great deal of catastrophising.
I get a paper cut – painful enough to notice at the time and mildly annoying but it’ll be fine in a couple of days.
A bricky gets a paper cut (well the equivalent of one) – doesn’t even notice as their hands get battered every day.
One of the best things we can do when we get hurt is trying to think a bit more rationally about it.
Bear with me, I do appreciate it can be hard to do when things are acutely painful.
This is especially the case when the pain comes from, apparently nowhere. In cases like this the chances are that there genuinely is nothing much wrong. What you have is an overly sensitised area that is simply causing an overreaction. Most likely because the original issue was never fully resolved. The treatment process stopped at the point where there was no pain.
Pain in rehab
Funnily dealing with pain is the easiest part of most rehab from a purely treatment point of view. You are simply seeing to, in the words of Greg Lehman, “calm shit down”. It is about getting you to relax rather than it is about “treating” anything. the need to relax is one of the reasons I place a big emphasis on breathing in rehab.
What is more challenging is the building it back up again. For me, the proper treatment of an injury is a 3 step process of;
1. Dealing with Pain
2. Building Strength
3. Creating Robustness
If we miss out the 2nd and 3rd steps you are going to get stuck in the classic scenario of “re-injury” every few months. It is during these phases of the rehab process that you are really dealing with the problem. Dealing with the pain is simply setting the scene to allow for this to happen.
If you have any questions about an injury or such like that is a bit like what I’ve described simply reply to this email if oyu want to have a chat about it.