By Dr Amelia Caunt
Between marketing on television, the inconvenience of not just being able to do our normal day to day activities and the fear of what is happening to us when something hurts, pain has started to cop a pretty negative wrap.
Now I’ll preface this by saying this is a complicated topic and this is just one part of a multifaceted discussion but here we go:
The thing we seem to forget is that the main role of pain is PROTECTIVE. An example would be talking to my friend in the kitchen cooking dinner and putting my hand down on the hot plate before it has cooled. If I felt no pain next thing I know when I go to pick something up is that the aforementioned hand has partially melted away (I’m more thinking of a plastic mannequin hand here rather than melting flesh… less alarming). There isn’t going to be an easy solution to rectify the issue that has just been created here… unless of course you are a mannequin and then we can probably just get you a new hand.
Current world scenario I’d put my hand down and I’d feel pain, leading me to pull away with a minor wound that will heal - yes it’s frustrating it’ll get in the way of work and I’ll have to cover it but if you’re going to ask me, I’d take the pain over the loss of my hand.
People often tell me that their understanding of pain is that it indicates ‘damage’ and as a result they stop moving all together. So the idea seems to be that every time you bend forward and your back hurts there is more ‘damage’ occurring. Which if I say so myself is hugely overwhelming and once we understand pain a little better this idea is slightly counter intuitive.
Pain is our body’s way of communicating with us that something is going on and we just need to slow down and take our time to figure out if there is a problem or not. If we listen to it, we may even prevent injuring something.
An example of this is a sprained ankle, typically if you’re moving around comfortably and you accidentally move in a way that makes it sore it’ll settle down quickly. The thinking here would be that your ankle is still healing and your body is trying to let you know you need to take it a little easier and allow it to complete the process.
This isn’t licence to push through pain, it’s important to listen to your body and see your GP, osteo etc to help figure out what’s going on and take home some handy hints to help get you up and running again. Figuratively or literally, I’ll leave that one up to you.
Sometimes the most important part of what we do as health practitioners is to provide some education around what is happening. Ideally we take the unknown and thus the fear out of the process and build confidence in movement and your understanding of your body.