Pain Science 101: The Hidden Factors
Here at Lake Health Group we see a range of clientele from the wider Ballarat community, and most of the time people come to see us to resolve an ache or pain they have developed. Most people assume that pain is caused by structural damage to tissues within the body, but modern pain science suggests this isn’t necessarily correct. While tissues can undoubtedly cause pain (i.e. torn muscle, sprained joint, inflamed bursae) the experience of pain does not occur within the damaged tissues themselves- the problem is much more complex.
When tissue is damaged or irritated it sends that information to the brain, which interprets this information and determines the appropriate response. If the brain interprets the signals sent from the specific regions of your body as threatening and harmful, it is likely to make you feel pain to help protect the vulnerable area, in order to prevent further damage and allow recovery. So essentially, rather than pain being created in your body’s tissues, it is instead an output of the brain that occurs as part of a protective response. The human body and particularly the brain are extremely complex systems, meaning our painful experiences could be significantly influenced by factors that are seemingly unrelated.
Some of the factors that can influence how your body perceives and interprets pain include:
- Sleep quality
- Exercise levels
- Stress/ Anxiety
- Your own thoughts and beliefs about your pain/ injury
Most injuries, aches and pains will resolve within 3 months or less with appropriate management. Our bodies create pain to protect damaged or irritated structures until they have recovered and settled down, at which point the pain normally resolves. In some cases the pain persists even after the structures are completely healed, causing pain to be produced on a regular basis even though there is no structural damage. In these cases it is likely there are other factors at play creating a painful experience that is not linked to damage or injury, the pain will likely persist until the relevant contributing factors are addressed and resolved.
Our team at Lake Health Group Ballarat prides ourselves on taking an a comprehensive, evidence based approach to the management of all presentations. If you are suffering from pain, and have been for some time, it would be worth your while to make an appointment with one of our physiotherapists to determine which factors are contributing to your pain and what you can do about it.
Joshua Dunne is a Physiotherapist and Pilates Instructor at Lake Health Group, Ballarat