Barbara Cullinan No Comments

You have acute back pain and you are fearful of moving because pain means damage, right? Actually, that is not necessarily the case, the pain you feel when you move is because you have tissues that are sensitive, bruised or inflamed and when you move these parts, they are going to remind you that ‘you are sore’, but this is not the same as, ‘you are in danger’.

Our bodies have an in-built pain mechanism that creates a safety buffer to prevent us from injuring ourselves. In other words, you might feel an increase in discomfort as you apply stress to the body and at some point this will become a sensation of pain, but there is still a zone/buffer between the stress applied and tissue damage occurring. When you have suffered chronic pain, this buffer is significantly bigger, your body is going to warn you by a sensation of pain, long before the stress is big enough to cause tissue damage.

Pain is well described by the intruder analogy. Neurological pain can cause a lot of fear around movement. Imagine you are lying in bed and you suspect an intruder in your house. You become extremely hypersensitive to any sounds or noises you didn’t previously notice. You literally freeze in your bed, too afraid to move. Well your nervous system responds in a very similar way, it is on high alert, reacting to any ‘noise’ if it suspects danger. But we need to challenge the assumption that you are in danger because it becomes very debilitating. If you lie all night in your bed imagining an intruder, nothing is resolved. If you stop moving for fear of pain, nothing is resolved. Neural tissue – nerves, are structures just like muscles, they have the capacity to slide and glide, what’s more, they need to be able to do this for the body to move freely. Moving your neural tissues just like your muscles stimulates oxygen to the tissue, nourishing it and healing it.

Your spine is designed to allow small movements at many levels, that then creates large movements in whole body dynamics. If we stop moving, the whole system is affected, and we must find alternate methods to achieve the desired result. This often leads to compensatory actions and perpetuates our pain. Gentle movement is the best way to start dealing with your pain.

If you need advice on how to stop letting pain intrude on your life, exercises that will allow you to start moving safely and a professional support system that cares about you and will progress your programme appropriately, then contact Sunshine Coast Health Services to book your physiotherapy appointment now. We all have dreams, yours are just as important.

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