Pain Explained

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Pain Explained

Pain, whether acute/injury-related or chronic, is often what brings someone to an osteopath. In my practice, I’ve learned a lot about the deeper into the roots of pain and how patients can successfully stay pain free.

From a physiological perspective, pain only exists when the brain processes electrical impulses, transmitted by neurons, from a site in the body. The brain is the “pain processing center”. Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers that transmit these signals. They’re also responsible for regulation of emotions and much more. Stress, diet and other issues can affect neurotransmitters. There is a complex relationship between stress, emotions, learned patterns, and pain.

Here are three key points to remember about pain:

  1. Pain is a signal from our bodies. It is telling us something. By simply masking it (with painkillers or cortisone shots, for example) we are killing an important messenger.
  2. Pain doesn’t exist at the site. It is an electrical impulse that doesn’t become pain until it is interpreted that way by the brain. This is why pain is felt and expressed differently by different people and in different situations. It is also why pain can be reduced or eliminated with refocusing, relaxation techniques, and while sleeping.
  3. We sometimes feel pain very far from its origin. We may experience pain in one area of the body to indicate something is wrong in an area the full length of our body away from the site (sometimes called referred pain). This is one of the reasons pain can be so tricky to eliminate successfully.

When treating pain, we cannot neglect the mind-body connection. Emotions (emotional trauma, stress and repressed emotions) are directly related to muscle tension and resulting pain and injuries.

Though many things can relieve pain for a short time, a comprehensive approach can ensure long-term healing. When pain is sending us a message, we are wise to listen. It is very easy to become accustomed to stress and muscle tension. Humans have a great capacity for suppressing, but “the body never lies”. Successfully healing pain requires addressing underlying issues and looking at the body and mind as a whole.

If you are suffering from an injury, acute or chronic pain, click here to make an appointment for a comprehensive assessment. The multidisciplinary team at Body & Soul can be an excellent resource if you are dealing with pain. A combination of osteopathy, physiotherapy, and chiropractic and acupuncture can be used to holistically alleviate pain. Using a team approach, rather than a segmented departmental approach, we gain a better understanding of all the options for helping patients heal.

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Matthew Stevens
Matthew Stevens
Osteopath

Matthew has over 20 years of experience in osteopathy, practicing in the UK, New Zealand, and Japan. He also taught osteopathy in Milan, Italy. He is specialized in integrative manual therapy, combining osteopathic treatments with medical massages as well as with some Traditional Chinese Medicine techniques.