Pain, pain, PAIN
What is pain? The scientific among you might exclaim ‘pain is simply neuronal firing, a basic biofeedback mechanism of the body’. The more intuitive may feel as though ‘pain is our body telling us about an imbalance, that something needs to change’. Regardless of your perspective, it’s clear that your body is talking to you, and you should listen!
Pain ≠ Pain
Pain is a subjective experience, everyone experiences pain differently, to different extents, in different ways and for different reasons, but it is possible to categorise pain somewhat, and if we can categorise we can develop strategies to understand and relieve the pain. I’m going to discuss pain in the following 4 categories:
- Structural and myofascial
- Mental and emotional
As I mentioned before, it’s important to understand pain is extremely subjective and individual, so my accuracy with descriptions and therapeutic remedies may vary from person to person. I’ll start with the easiest and probably the most common type of pain, Acute.
Acute pain is almost always directly following a physical trauma. Breaking a bone, burning your skin or cutting your hand open are all good examples. Treatment for most is obvious. If you break your leg or cut yourself badly, get to the emergency room! But for smaller things, here are some tips.
For mild burns, like sunburn or oil splashes, coconut oil or aloe vera applied directly to the burn are amazing. Coconut oil is very moisturising to the skin, and aloe vera is very cooling and soothes the pain by a measurable degree almost instantly.
Most small cuts that don’t require stitches should be washed and cleaned thoroughly, but will heal by themselves. The real danger with smaller cuts is infections so sanitation is paramount.
With bangs and bruises, stubbed toes or sprains, the best thing is simply rest. If an activity causes your pain to increase you’re probably overexerting yourself and doing so will only increase the time it takes you to recover, take it easy for a few days and allow your body to work its magic.
Myofascial and Structural Pain
Not the same, but have a few similarities. The most significant being that with the correct intervention, both can potentially be resolved in a relatively short period of time, and are often both treatable under the care of a competent chiropractor. The largest cause of myofascial pain is through trigger points, these points of tight contracted muscle can refer pain to other parts of the body. Knots in the neck can cause headaches or arm pain, and knots in the leg can cause painful referrals down the leg, very often misdiagnosed as sciatica. Trigger points are actually very simple to remedy, for less severe trigger points simply applying pressure to the tender knot of muscle will allow the knot to dissipate. In more severe cases, or for knots that can’t be accessed by pressure (sub occipital, deep in the leg etc.) Acupuncture needles can be utilized in a technique known as dry needling. When the needle enters the muscle knot causing rapid contractions and relaxation of the muscle, often resulting in twitching in the referred pain area. Structural issues, such as misaligned vertebrae, or other injuries that cause joints or other structural parts of the body like ligaments and tendons to repair in an incorrect position, a good example would be breaking a bone and having it knit back together in the wrong position. As painful as it may be, the best option would be to break the toe again and allow it to heal back in the correct position. Generally, for most structural issues, a chiropractor is going to be your best bet, as they do need to perform a diagnoses and develop a personalised treatment plan based on your individual issues.
Chemical and Biological
Pain that has its root in chemical and biological pathology is often confusing and hard to specify. Talking in generalised terms will make my explanation clearer and hopefully convey the premise behind the theory. When talking chemical and biological pain, we ultimately come down to two distinct groups; Toxicity and deficiency. Not to say both can’t compound on each other, in fact, in most cases they do. Deficiencies in certain essential nutrients will cause body operations to slow, and eventually fail. A fantastic example is scurvy. When ascorbate stores are depleted in the body and not enough collagen is consumed to keep up with cellular repair, the symptoms of scurvy manifest, and this is painful. This is compounded in cases with toxicity, as overwhelming levels of toxins can cause mental and emotional anguish, as well as manifesting in physical pain. Many consider cancer to have a toxin aspect and it’s well agreed cancer is incredibly painful. The compounding issue begins with toxin exposure, which therefore requires the body to detoxify these compounds, and your body kindly does for you every second of the day. However, this detoxification process is very expensive, both metabolically and nutritionally, this depletes nutrients at an extraordinary rate, and eventually leads to a deficiency of these nutrients. I’m confident to say this is how most chronic bio-toxin illnesses manifest, after prolonged exposure to a toxin, such as a mouldy house, or chronic exposure to mercury (like in amalgam fillings). The solution is simple and complicated at the same time. Put simply, address nutritional deficiencies and provide adequate nutrition, and secondly, remove the source of toxicity. Doing this by yourself can be a long and expensive process but it is possible, alternatively you could work with a holistic healers or naturopath, particularly one who has access to a bioressonance/Rife machine.
Mental and Emotional Pain
This topic is harder to discuss, it’s less physical, more complicated, and harder to wrap your head around. If your pain is a chronic problem, and it’s none of the above there’s very likely an emotional or mental component to the pain. I personally find this topic a lot harder to understand, and that will probably be evident in my explanation, but here goes. I think the best way to understand this is to take a look at the treatment therapies for this kind of problem. The first therapy is called EFT or the Emotional Freedom Technique, a process where you tap meridians on your body, repeat affirmations and become present and aware of your pain. You start by defining and rating the pain in a scale 1 – 10, and following the tapping, affirmations, and concentrating your awareness you repeat the pain scale analysis and, very often, the pain is reduced. The second treatment I know of is somatic experiencing, and I have an in depth post about that right here. The primary similarity in both of these treatments, and more that I didnt mention, is awareness, and I think that this similarity is the key to understanding the cause and treatment of emotional and mental pain. Even once you understand how to tackle this pain, it’s often the hardest pain to face initially, and even harder to persist. As I stated, the key is awareness, and often the reason we began to avert our awareness is because what we were facing was too painful, too difficult, too much for us to face. To bring awareness to these pains will induce the same pain and difficulty we were facing the first time we encountered it, and unless we are better prepared, stronger, and more resourced, we will likely fall before the challenge as we did previously.
I think it’s safe to say, we all try to avoid pain as much as possible, but pain is required for us to know pleasure. Instead of pushing it aside, accept the pain is the potential for healing, it’s a physical manifestation of potential to renew and grow. I hope I might have helped you ease your pains, and I hope you can enjoy the rest of your day. I love you all.