Breaking the Pain Cycle

pain cycle diagramA recent study conducted at the Center on an Aging Society at Georgetown University found that back pain is the most common cause of workdays lost in the US. It is the 2ndmost common cause of visits to the doctor’s office and experts estimate that 80% of the population will have a back pain issue at some point in their lives. Not only are we a society in pain, but when it gets bad enough we lose work, money, and then have to pay in an attempt to relieve the pain. Many of us are currently facing these problems and are met with the question of how do I get better and how do I decrease the likelihood that the pain will return. One answer is understanding and breaking the pain cycle.

Webster’s dictionary defines pain as “the physical feeling caused by disease, injury, or something that hurts the body.” So how do our bodies interpret these “hurts.” What it boils down to is the irritation of nerves. Nerves form an extensive meshwork that traverses every square inch of our bodies and allows our brain to interpret our environment. Nerves can be irritated either by direct trauma or the processes of inflammation. Inflammation is a cellular/chemical storm that takes place at the site of pain to conduct the healing process. This brings us to the standard pain cycle diagram illustrated in figure 1.

Back pain is most commonly initiated by physical trauma to the body resulting in what is known as acute nonspecific back pain. Trauma such as car accidents, falls, lifting injuries, prolonged faulty posture, sleeping in the wrong position, etc. can all lead to misalignments of the spine, muscle tightness, damaged tissues, and inflammation resulting in limited range of motion, and loss of proper function. Once the injury is sustained and the nerves are telling your brain you’re in pain, the healing process must then begin.  Luckily, there are many treatment options available. The most efficient treatment approach involves: examination and history of your condition, adjustments of the spine to correct any misalignments or joint dysfunction, massage to promote circulation and proper healing of the musculature, physiotherapy modalities to combat excess inflammation, postural and ergonomic evaluation, and corrective exercises to strengthen the injured or imbalanced muscles.

A good massage therapist will with your physical therapist or physician to create a comprehensive treatment approach to get you back in action and begin the process of pain reduction as soon as possible. We have all the knowledge and tools necessary to put you on the road to less pain.