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Injured tissues typically present with pain and a change in function, which results in altered movement. Physical therapists are movement specialists. I can tell whether a joint is moving too much, too little or just right and whether a muscle is working properly or is too tight and short. These are measurements of biomechanics – the mechanical workings of the body.
Abnormal mechanics usually results in wear and tear of joints and muscles and is a significant pain generator. In most cases when you restore the biomechanics – optimal joint motion and muscle function – the pain also resolves.
There are some cases however; where this does not happen: despite restoration of normal biomechanics – pain persists. This can occur because pain is not only generated by tissue injury or wear and tear; it is also generated by the emotional centers of our brain.
Pain is more than a mere sensation it is a complex emotional and sensory experience. A sensory experience is reported to the brain and the brain takes that sensory experience and combines it with previous emotional experiences and creates our “perception” of pain.
Pain is a perception and since we all have unique environmental stimuli and experiences an individual’s perception of pain is unique to them.
Pain is a survival mechanism. It alerts us to possible tissue injury and when we are injured it tells us to immobilize and protect the tissues so they have time to heal.
The disconnect most of us will have regarding pain, is that it is not always associated with actual tissue injury; it can be just potential injury. This means our minds can trigger a painful experience. If we want to control pain; we have to control our emotional centers, our thoughts.
Damaged tissues release messages that alert the immune system about danger and the need to activate an immune response to battle any foreign invaders and begin wound healing.
Danger signals and activation of the immune system trigger physiological biochemical reactions. One biochemical reaction is the production of inflammation which is a major trigger of pain.
So despite the restoration of biomechanics, pain can persist if it is triggered by our thoughts and systemic inflammation.
We have a wonderful super power; we can adapt to all kinds of stress and loads. But when our buckets of resilience get too full; we can exhaust our adaptive potential and we can break down which allows pain to present and persist. The bucket contains both biomechanical and biochemical influences on our pain perception. We need to address all of it to manage pain.
If I want to help my patients resolve pain and resume function, I have to broaden my search for ALL the sources of their pain.
Each of us has to look inside our buckets and take inventory of what’s in there. There may be certain items we cannot remove, but if we remove what we can; our resilience and our ability to manage will improve.
Biomechanical influences can be reduced by restoring joint motion, muscle length, muscle performance and by stabilizing joints that move too much. But there are other issues that often do not get enough attention. These are the biochemical issues and these are what I want to address with this course.
I have first hand experience about the impact of addressing biochemical issues in addition to biomechanical problems. It was a Functional Medicine doctor that helped me realize the interconnection of all our functioning parts. We need to address ALL of it. What I learned through the fundamentals of functional medicine had a major impact on my health – so much so I took the courses to become a certified Functional Medicine Practitioner.
I want you to understand what else you could be doing to manage your pain. You may be missing a critical link that could be the answer to resolving your pain.
On this course we are going to take a look at some other factors I think you should address because there is lots of good evidence these are critical missing links. I will share with you what I learned and what changes I made to resolve my pain.
This course has modules that provide you with the background science- the “why”. If I suggest you make a lifestyle change, whether it is how you move or how you eat; I hope there is a better "buy-in" if you appreciate the reason why it is for your own good. Change occurs through acceptance and willingness to actively participate.
Whether you choose to make the change is always your choice. Change is a journey that is harder for some, but each baby step counts.
After the science section you will find the suggested “Action Steps”. Incorporate what you can into your daily lifestyle. Pain is a multi-factorial issue and a percentage game. One issue may have a greater contributing factor but resolution comes by addressing all the factors. You may not perceive a difference from some of the individual lifestyle changes and this can make you want to abandon the change. There needs to be a certain level of faith and trust in the science. Sometimes individuals do not realize they were feeling better until they fall off the wagon and symptoms return. This can be an excellent motivation to stick with the new lifestyle change.
There is a “misery:motivation” ratio I have often witnessed. People are not willing to make a change until they are really miserable. I believe prevention is a better strategy. If you understand what you need to do to prevent misery – stick with that plan!
The goal of BodyCheck Prevention & Health is to help you live your best life!
Consider your present stage of behavior change. Perhaps you are right at the first stage – “ignorance is bliss”. It means you do not have anything to work on. I believe life is a work in progress so hopefully the action of taking this course means you have advanced to the next stage and you are ready to consider a behavior change. Remember change does not occur in a linear fashion through these steps – we will all take a step forward and at times slide back. Give yourself a break – that is OK! Just take a deep breathe in a take another step forward. Just focus on the next small step; you can always manage that. Before you know it; you maybe be further ahead than you realize. Celebrate every small step along the way!
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