Pain is a complex human phenomena that bloody hurts! By why do we experience pain? Below I will discuss some of the key important concepts when it comes to understanding your pain.
Pain is a way of communicating danger. Within our tissues there are sensors that detect sensory stimulus (i.e. sharp or blunt pressure, heat, smell, sound etc.). These messages are then sent to the brain via our immune and nervous systems. Then the brain has to rapidly process these inputs and decide if there is a iminent threat or danger that is worth paying attention to!
A simplified version is to see that pain is like an alarm system that which when under stress can become highly sensitive to external and internal threats in order to protect yourself from harm.
Therefore, pain is an important a protection mechanism that’s essential to your survival. Without it we would regularly put ourselves in danger.
Note that pain does not equal damage. Often times people who have had injuries have variable pain responses and everybody is unique and responds differently; they may have a hardnosed approach “i’ll be right mate” and keeping pushing through the pain or they may be more fearful of doing more damage and so stop working and start to avoid doing tasks that they think might “cause” more pain i.e bending down to pick something off the floor, heavy lifting, walking.
So now check out this excellent video below for a more visual representation of explaining pain
Video: Understanding pain
Self reflecting on your pain
To understand more about your pain ask yourself the following questions and write down your answers on a piece of paper or wherever you feel comfortable to do so
When did the pain first start?
What were you doing at the time?
What happened next, what happened later that day?
How long before you saw a medical professional or physiotherapist?
What thoughts did you have about the pain ?
How did you react? Were you scared?
How does the pain make you feel?
How much does the pain affect your ability to work, do tasks at home, surf?
Was there any other significant event going on in your life at the time?
Past Medical History
Have you injured this area before? If so when was the last time?
Have you had any scans/medical imaging?
Have you had any previous therapy for this injury? What worked well? what didnt you find useful?
What other injuries have you sustained during your life?
Have you had any fractures / broken bones?
Family history of Arthritis? Diabetes? Cancer? Heart Disease?
Have you recently lost a lot of weight in a short period of time?
Any severe night pain?
What medication are you currently taking?
Your behavior of symptoms
Where do you feel your pain?
Do feel pain in any other parts of your body?
Have you injured this area before?
How would you describe what your pain feels like?
Do you get any strange feelings like pins and needles, numbness or weakness? If yes, where and how long does it last for?
What does it feel like when you first wake up and get out of bed?
During the rest of the morning what does it feel like? And how does it feel into the afternoon and at night?
What activities, positions or tasks make your pain worse?
How long into when you’re walking/running does it start?
When aggravated how long does it last for before easing away? (Seconds/minutes)
What makes it feel better?
Is there ever a time where you feel no pain?
How many hours of sleep are you currently getting? What are your normal hours of sleep?
Are you late nighter/early riser?
What makes you sleep better/worse?
What is your outlook on pain?
What do you think is causing your pain?
Do you think it is getting better, staying the same or worsening?
What do you think you can do to get better?
What do you want to achieve the most in the short term? Long term?
From this you might start to see even how other factors going in your life i.e. workload, relationships or even the death of a close relative lead to increased emotional stresses which greatly impact on your pain
Next up I will discuss what you can do to help yourself manage your pain better
Remember if in doubt go see a medical professional or physiotherapist and get it checked out.