Chronic Pain: Question and Answer Part Two
From our last post you now know that pain comes from the brain. I know this is confusing, but it is best if you see pain more as an experience or a signal from the brain. What is the brain trying to tell you? The brain wants to alert and protect you from harm. A pain response can induce fear and result in what we call fear avoidance of movement. At the end of this post are links to connect you to brain retraining tools.
Now for a few more questions.
- Does pain always mean injury or tissue damage? No pain is more associated with fear and protection. A person can have tissue damage and No pain.
- My MRI shows bulging disc and I have no pain. Is this possible? Yes, you can have damage to joints and tissue and No pain.
- I am in a lot of pain, so something must be damaged? No, pain does not always equal injury.
- So if pain comes from the brain, can my brain be changed? Yes, your brain can be trained.
- How do I know if my brain needs to be retrained? If you have chronic pain, your brain needs to be retrained. You are stuck in a chronic pain loop.
- Can my brain be retrained? Yes, our bodies are made for change. If you push your body to be different it will respond. Just like if you increase a weight with exercise the muscle will adapt and produce more muscle fibers.
- How do I get started with retraining my brain? Graded Motor Imagery is a great program that focuses on retraining the brain.
- Can a Physical Therapist help? Yes, we will use pain reducing techniques and progress you toward using exercise and self tx. to reduce your pain and get you moving again. Over time brain retraining programs will be used to retrain your brain. Education is a big part of retraining the brain. Reducing fear is a big part as well.
- I don’t move because I am afraid it will cause me pain. Is this good? No, movement is medicine. Not moving due to fear of pain is called fear avoidance. It is a fear of movement, not that you should not move. You need to show your body that you can move and not be in pain. You have heard when you fall you need to get back on the horse. This is to reduce the fear of the horse that your brain has produced. Your brain wants to protect you, but it can become over protective. Much like an over protective parent.
- Are there tools I can use to test and train my brain? Yes! The Recognise App created by NOI. I am an apple affiliate and will benefit from you using theses links, but we want to make it easy for you to find the right resources. The following link will connect you to the Recognise Neck App for iPhone. If another part of your body is the primary source of pain then you can download the Recognise App (hand), Recognise Foot App, Recognise knee App, Recognise Shoulder App, Recognise Back App.
This article is for education only. This information is not intended to replace the advise or evaluation of a healthcare provider. An evaluation is highly skilled and complex and involves an evaluation of different systems and elements to determine the best approach for each individual. Always follow the instructions of your physical therapist or physician in regards to your personal exercise program.