Pain Explained 2.0 – Hurt not Harm and Protection

September 8, 2016

Following on from my last pain blog (here) I’d like to keep the thought process going – hurt doesn’t equal harm – while including the way we TALK about pain.

Think about the last thing that hurt – or the thing that has been hurting for a while. How would you describe it to a friend, or to me? Things I hear a lot include

“I’ve stuffed my knee” – really, with what?

“My shoulder is @#$%^&” – not literally I hope.

“I’ve put my back out” – where did you put it?

“I just felt it go” – have you felt it come back?

All of these statements are largely describing a pain episode, so what we really mean is “I have felt, or still feel, pain”

But the way we describe it tends to include drastic words, invoking images of destruction. Whether you mean to or not, you are encouraging your brain to freak out about your painful area and stop it moving.

Now if you have been recently hit by a car, or fallen down a flight of stairs, the chance of you damaging something is pretty high, but you don’t tend to tell your friends, or me. You’re telling the ED doctor or the paramedic. If you don’t have a recently traumatic injury, you CAN’T have “stuffed” anything. And if you did injure it years ago, if you did any damage, it will have healed. So apart from recent trauma, most things BENEFIT from movement. If you keep telling your brain your back is stuffed, it’s not going to want to move very far.

Joints like movement. In fact, movement stimulates the production of joint fluid, which makes movement easier. If you don’t move, you get stiff. Next time you need that movement and it’s not there, the tissue tells the brain, the brain gets worried and BANG it hurts. But that pain is a protection mechanism. And in most cases it’s overprotection. In cases of persistent pain, your protection mechanism escalates and prevents you doing a lot of things that will never be damaging. But your brain thinks they are DANGEROUS.

So when talking about your sore neck or shoulder, call it what it is. A sore neck or shoulder. And if it doesn’t go away, do something about it! Newcastle Performance Physio provides up to date pain management that will get you moving well and staying that way.

Share this on social media with friends who have “stuffed” something

Until next time