At Your Health Sport and Spine we have a special interest in chronic back pain and the management of it. We work closely with GPs and other health/fitness professionals all around the Hills District, Dural, Castle Hill, Glenhaven and Galston to try and come up with individualised approaches to help it settle down.
Pain. Everyone has experienced it at one time or another in their lives. It hurts, its unpleasant and if it hangs around long enough it is a damn nuisance!
But what is it? It seems a simple enough question, but there is a lot more to it than you might think…
According to the International Association for the Study of Pain, pain is “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage” (Mersey and Bogduk, 1994). It’s a pretty all encompassing definition because pain is actually a fairly complex process. In summary what some one experiences as pain is an output of the brain based upon what the body tells it (a process call nociception) mixed in with what the person has previously experienced with a dash of the person’s thoughts and beliefs about pain.
This is really good in the short term because it acts an alarm system to prevent further damage to your body however long term, the body changes and pain no longer serves this function. This is where it’s really important to get it under control quickly and safely to prevent it hanging around indefinitely.
The Macquarie University physiotherapy department has developed six core principles of pain that are quite important for everyone to get their head around. These points are:
- Pain is always an output of the brain, 100% of the time.
- The amount of pain does not equal the amount of tissue damage.
- Pain is influenced by multiple factors such as thoughts, activity, sleep, mood and stress.
- Acute pain serves as a useful protective function to warn of danger.
- Chronic pain results from an extra sensitive nervous system and no longer warns the body of danger or tissue damage.
- There are various treatment strategies can help to turn down a sensitive nervous system, reduce pain and improve quality of life.
- Merskey, H., Bogduk, N. (1994) Part III: Pain Terms, A Current List with Definitions and Notes on Usage” (pp 209-214) Classification of Chronic Pain, Second Edition, IASP Task Force on Taxonomy. IASP Press, Seattle