Why am I in pain?

Pain is like a warning light on your car's dashboard. It tells you something isn't quite right with the functioning of your system. It alerts you to pay attention, do something differently or seek help. Here's the 3 most common causes of pain:

1) Physical overload

In it's most simple form, the warning light of pain will tell us to change our behaviour in order to reduce the load on the body. For example: an athlete after over training, a labourer who uses poor lifting technique, a student who spends long periods hunched over a desk. This sort of pain doesn't usually require professional intervention because we're likely to self-correct. When we lift correctly, sit up straight or reduce training intensity, the problem quickly resolves. However if we have applied some simple self-correction and the pain persists, it may mean the tissues are damaged. Read on...

2) Damage to the body's tissues

Bones and soft tissues can be overloaded to the point of strain. Tissue strain may be slight (microscopic damage) or major (overt tearing, rupture, breakage, herniation, etc.). When tissues are damaged, the warning light is telling us to stop, rest and protect. In the vast majority of cases, repair is carried out automatically by the body's own in-built mechanisms. Most of this repair happens in deep sleep, and it takes about 2-8 weeks depending upon the degree of damage. Whilst physiotherapy techniques can't directly alter the structural integrity of the tissues, there are some helpful things we can do as the body repairs itself:

· apply strapping/bracing to support the area, and provide advice on the appropriate level of physical loading to apply given the stage of repair

· provide exercises to assist in the recovery of mobility, strength and balance, where required

· apply manual therapies to help the muscles relax and to stretch soft tissues which have become tight during the repair phase.

3) Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is defined as pain lasting longer than 3 months, beyond the time expected for healing of an injury or condition. It can occur when the nerves become hyper-sensitive and interpret messages as pain long after the original issue has resolved. In this case a different approach, often including multi-disciplinary input has been shown to be the most effective, and may include:

· Exercise programs

· Relaxation techniques

· Medication

· Cognitive Therapy and behaviour modification

· Sleep hygiene, or encouraging good sleep habits.

If you are experiencing pain that is either recent or ongoing and have any questions, call up the clinic and speak to one of our Physiotherapists .

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