You’ve all experienced it. You wake up in the morning with a kink in your neck that doesn’t allow you to turn your head to the right. Up until that point in your life, turning your head the right was nothing but a thang, so you didn’t actually realize how often it needed to be done throughout the day.
That morning, however, you transformed into a zombie—not only turning your entire torso as you back your car out of the driveway, but finding a long, slow, deep “uhhhhhhhhhhhh” escaping from your lips as the stiffness and pain flare up. Life resumes as normal throughout the day until someone off to the right asks you a question and you go to quickly snap your head to the side and shit, it doesn’t work. Here comes the zombie torso turn, though this time you stifle the “uhhhhhhhhhh” so people don’t think you’re crazy.
What the heck happened to your neck?!
You must have done something horrible to it, right? There must be some kind of injury?! Not necessarily!
The truth about pain:
Pain and injury do not always go hand-in-hand
What do you mean? This is what I’ve always been taught?!
Science has proven that injury does not necessarily cause pain and pain does not always mean that your tissues are damaged.
There are many different influences to pain, and physical injury is only a small piece of the puzzle. Beliefs, emotions, stress levels, sleep, lack of movement, etc. are all contributing members to perceived pain—especially when it’s persistent.
This view is called the Biopsychosocial model, meaning everything in your life is fair game when it comes to creating perceived pain. This is on one hand super exciting, and on the other hand, kind of overwhelming.
Bottom line here is that pain does not always equal injury.
Check out my video below!
Stress and emotional upset can contribute to physical pain:
How is your stress level? How much sleep are you getting? How are your relationships going?
Does your pain get worse if your sleep is interrupted, or if you have a stressful day, or if your work deadlines are making you anxious? Does your pain correlate with other aspects of your life?
For example, I have persistent back pain that shows up when I’m under a lot of stress. It lets me know in a very loud way that it’s time to make a change :/
Any danger alarms in your body can contribute to your perception of physical pain
Your body can become overly sensitized due to all the stressors on your health, life and relationships.
As I said in the beginning, knowing this information can be both exciting and overwhelming. Looking at it from the exciting angle though, there are a multitude of approaches to help desensitize you from your pain.
If fear of a pain flare-up is causing you to miss out on your favorite activities, you can start re-incorporating them, little by little. Spending more quality time with friends could increase your happiness and lower your stress to help indirectly reduce your pain symptoms. You can start getting out into nature for its stress-relieving benefits, and begin to make more of an effort to get better quality sleep.
Or you can work with a practitioner, like me, who can help to relieve some of your more acute pain and tension, to avoid further exacerbating your chronic pain, and to potentially help you recognize what triggers your pain flare-ups.
Important side note about pain:
Please note that most pain is not actually serious, however on rare occasions, pain is a sign of something like an infection, tumor or other serious disease, so if the pain persists, it’s worth seeing a healthcare practitioner to rule those out.
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Who is Kristen Stephen?
Kristen Stephen is a bodyworker, practicing integrative manual therapy, in Nederland, Colorado. Her mission is to help people live lives with less pain and more joy.
Please note, all material on this website is for for educational and informational purposes only, and should not be taken as medical advice.
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