Although pain and injury are linked, on closer inspection, it turns out they are two distinct things. And although they often strike together, on many occasions they do not. It is possible to have a great deal of pain, without any injury at all.
When pain originates in an injury there is a protocol of how to calm it down and rehabilitate it. There is an average healing time for the different types of tissues and it is split into different phases, which in combination with the right exercise can bring back strength, range of motion and control of the affected area.
Tissue Healing Times
Muscle Strains and Tears - 3-6 weeks
Bones - 6-10 weeks
Discs, Tendons and Ligaments - 12-18 moths
For a lot of people, however, the problem starts when they experience pain long after their tissues have healed. Sometimes, it can be as a result of repeated injury, or injury which has not been rehabbed properly, but often it is what literature calls nonspecific pain or chronic pain.
Our pain system functions as an alarm system to warn us of potential damage to our body, in just the same way smoke alarms protect us from fires. When a smoke alarm goes off, it may be a fire, but most often it's just burnt toast. The reason why smoke alarms often go off is that they are designed to be oversensitive, to warn us long before a small fire becomes a raging inferno. Our pain system works exactly the same. To warn you of potential damage to the tissues, pain is triggered BEFORE serious damage occurs.
Just like an over-sensitive smoke alarm can be set off by frying oil or burned toast, our pain system can be triggered by lack of sleep, anxiety and other sources of stress. Stress reduces our systems' resilience and puts it on high alert.
When your pain system goes off, it can hurt exactly the same as if the injury occurs, because it cannot sense it was just a false alarm.
Almost everyone experiences occasional aches and pains which come from nowhere and then suddenly disappear for equally mysterious reasons. These are not real injuries, but glitches in the pain system. And chronic or nonspecific pain can be so hard to manage because there are so many different factors that can contribute to flare-ups.
People experiencing pain seek answers and diagnosis, so it can be very difficult to find that their pain is not linked to any structural tissue damage. Their pain is very real and so very painful, but with knowledge and support, there are ways to build resilience and calm down the oversensitive pain system. This is where getting regular exercise, enough sleep, managing stress and even positive, optimistic thoughts and empowering beliefs can reduce the experience of pain.
This is why we have to strengthen not just the affected area of the body but look at mindset and habits, and all of these I strive to help my clients with on daily basis.
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