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Pain: What is it? How does it work?

Updated: Jun 25

Did you know there are different types of pain, and this should directly impact your treatment?


At Move Sports Physiotherapy & Pilates in Belmont we want to work with you and understand your pain and pain experience. The first step is sometimes learning more about what pain is...


ACUTE PAIN


Acute pain is short-term and tends to be more associated with damage or possible damage to your body. For example, if you sprain your ankle it is likely you will feel pain associated with the bruising and swelling. This is acute pain. Usually, it will settle as your body heals because the affected part no longer needs protection. Healing usually takes less than three months, even for quite severe injuries.


Treatment will include soft tissue massage, reducing inflammation, compression, rest, and loading advice.


CHRONIC PAIN

Persistent pain lasts longer than acute pain and often does not indicate ongoing damage, even though it may feel like it. Instead, the pain is less to do with an injury in our bodies and more to do with our central nervous system. It’s like the volume knob on our pain system has been left turned up like a radio stuck on ’loud.’ Persistent pain can take over a person’s life. It’s really important to understand that you can ‘turn the volume down’ again, but it often takes effort and time.


Research points to a number a whole lot of factors that influence how your body perceives pain, such as:

  • how scared, stressed or worried a you are at the time of injury;

  • what the injury means to you as a person; what you believe has happened to you.

  • how long you may be fearful of the activity or avoids their normal activities;

  • how likely you feel you will recover

  • your family history.

In other words, personal beliefs and environmental factors can make a big difference in how we experience pain and how likely it is that pain will persist.

Back pain

HOW DO WE CHANGE PAIN OR DIAL IT DOWN?

  • Increase your understanding about pain (well done – you have already started)

  • Increased general activity

  • Work towards personal goals (start focussing on personal goals instead of on how to ‘fix’ the pain.)

  • Be Curious about your pain and see if you can think about it differently

  • Pace your activities

  • Get some Sleep

  • Have a good team around you.

Give yourself space , this takes time.

Remember everyone's journeys are different and our expectations often differ from reality.



Danger and safety in movement, chronic pains evidence based physiotherapy
How to Change your Pain

REFERENCES


Latremoliere A and Woolf CJ (2009) Central Sensitization: A Generator of Pain Hypersensitivity by Central Neural Plasticity. Journal of Pain ; 10(9): 895–926


Moseley GL (2003) A pain neuromatrix approach to patients with chronic pain. Manual Therapy 8(3):130–140)


O’Sullivan P (2011) It’s time for change with the management of non-specific chronic low back pain. Br J Sports Med (2011)


Wand BM, Parkitny L , O’Connell N, Luomajoki H, McAuley J, Thacker M, Moseley GL (2011) Cortical changes in chronic low back pain: Current state of the art and implications for clinical practice., Manual Therapy 16:15-20


Woolf CJ (2007) Central Sensitization. Uncovering the Relation between Pain and Plasticity. Anaesthesiology 106:864–7




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