At Ascent PT we will be starting a more formal chronic pain program in the coming weeks. This is to help clients who have prolonged chronic pain, which continues to be a growing problem in our country. Pain research has continued to evolve and we feel this type of program can help educate people on the changes, which have been in the research for more than 10-15 years, but still very slow to reach the public. And, education seems to be one of the keys to helping chronic pain.
We know that pain originates in our brain, and can be greatly affected by things other than just tissue damage. When we experience an injury or trauma our brain interprets the signals from the tissues, and determines what to do with them. If the brain determines there is a significant threat it will send pain signals to get you to deal with the situation. Kind of like a burglar alarm. If your window gets broken the alarm goes off and the police come. When everything works correctly works correctly, we protect the tissue, it heals, we steadily increase our function and the pain fades away. We fix the window and reset the alarms for next time. Sometimes for reasons we don’t always understand, the brain doesn’t reset the alarm all the way. The nervous system stays sensitive and the brain stays in threat mode. Even if the tissues heal. This is like the alarm that goes off in a strong wind. This can keep the pain going long after it should be gone.
Frequently people with chronic pain never learn this. They continue to look for answers in the tissues rather than the nervous system. And, our medical system can keep them on this path. This can lead to confusion, fear, and stress, which can lead to continued increased nervous system sensitivity. One of the areas of research that shows how to help chronic pain, is to educate people about its nature. It is sometimes counterintuitive, and different than many of the messages people in pain hear, but learning that tissues have healed can reduce some fear and stress which can reduce pain.
Our goal with our pain program will be to help people gain control of their lives, learn to set realistic goals, increase their functional movement and activity, and reduce pain as a consequence. Over the next few weeks our blog will discuss chronic pain, why it happens, and what we may be able to do to help reduce it.