Curiosity and Pain

Have you ever been curious about pain, specifically, chronic or persistent pain? Do you have chronic pain? This is for you!

I was not curious. In fact, when I was a student physical therapist, I wanted nothing to do with “pain patients”. I didn’t want to touch these people with a 10 foot pole! What do you do with someone who has chronic pain?? I was pretty well convinced these folks were hopeless and beyond any earthly help. I’m a born helper (though my parents might disagree) and as a PT, I love to help people change their bodies and change their minds for the better. Unfortunately, I carried this misconception; that there was nothing for me to offer, for a long time. Three years ago I began working in a pain management program where I learned how to compassionately explain pain to a person who had been dealing as best they could for as long as they could-their whole lives-in some cases.

So, please allow me to blow your mind, compassionately, if you’re new to this pain stuff…

Pain is made by your brain.

Are you thinking I’m telling you the pain is all in your head?

Yes. Please read on.

Why then, do you experience pain in various areas of your body?

We have all kinds of different receptors in our tissues (think bone, blood, joint, muscle, fascia, gut, etc.) that respond to temperature, pressure, and chemical changes. A disruption in/to the tissue, anywhere in the body, will mechanically change or otherwise “trip” these receptors and a signal (or many signals) will travel up to the brain from sensory nerve tissue via the spinal cord. Our brains will then decide, based on context, to send a pain signal (or many) back down the chain. This is a warning system, a mechanism, that tells us we need to modify our activity or seek care of some sort.

Here’s something interesting…take a person with phantom limb pain. A person who has undergone an amputation no longer has a foot or leg, hand or arm, to cause pain. Where does the pain, or itching, or cramping, or any number of other sensations they can experience come from?? The surgeon amputated the foot, right? Yes, they did, but they didn’t amputate the foot in the brain. Perhaps you’re wondering if I’m crazy…I may be, but there’s a lot of research to back this up. You have a map of your body in your brain. This brain map is in the sensorimotor cortex . There’s a funny looking guy/gal that goes along with the sensorimotor cortex that illustrates what it’s for called a homunculus.

picture from: http://brainmind.com/BrainLecture7.html

 

 

The homunculus has both sensory (temperature, pressure, etc.) and motor (movement) components. The end result is that the limb continues to exist in the brain and thereby a person can experience sensations in a missing limb.

We know this now, so there must be a way to change what we perceive as pain right? Yes. We have the ability to change our brains. This is called neuroplasticity. More about this in another post, stay tuned!

This is a great video by Painaustralia that helps to explain persistent pain in less than 5 minutes.

Please contact me if you’re interested in learning more about how to cope with and manage the pain you experience. Connect with the Neuro Orthopaedic Institute¬†(noigroup.com)to learn more on your own. Be curious about your pain. There is hope.

Do you do this too?

Please tell me you do this too… I recently started a new gut healing protocol; so far so good, I haven’t had any processed sugar or natural sweeteners for the past 5 days. Happy dance, woooohooooo! Wow. Except, not wow. I’ve done this before and it pretty much seems to be the same each time.

I say to myself, “one more cookie, one more peanut butter cup, one more piece of dark chocolate with sea salt…” I’m noticing a chocolate theme, hmmm. I tell myself, I’ll start fresh tomorrow. Then, what happens? I get a little bit stressed or a little bit (okay, a lot) tired and I cave and have “just one more” whatever the chocolatey sugary treat is. God bless my husband too who has learned to ask “Am I supposed to discourage you from this right now, or just leave you alone?”……

Well, it’s August. I’m at the very tail end of Gut Thrive and overall feeling less fatigued on a daily basis and better in my belly after eating. My relationship with sugar and treats has changed. I now eat very little fruit, and things like cake may be a once a month treat. I made a double layer cake for my daughter’s birthday in July. It was a nice cake and I ended up pulling from 5 different paleo recipes. I felt that cake after eating it! I felt it enough to decide then and there that it is NOT worth it to continue eating sugary treats like I was before I started Gut Thrive. I’m more interested in eating to live; to live this life God has granted me and do something worthwhile that will help people who are just like me.

If you’re curiosity has been piqued by this Gut Thrive in 5 I’m doing, you can find more information at The Whole Journey and also through this free webinar.

Cheers to a happy gut! Send me a message if you’re wondering how to get a happy gut :o).