Be­yond Pain

Montreal Times - - News - By Jes­sica Ro­mano Mon­treal Times

Pain is a nat­u­ral part of life.We’ve all ex­pe­ri­enced pain for var­i­ous rea­sons at one point or an­other. Com­mon com­plaints I hear is back pain, knee pain, hip pain, ab­dom­i­nal pain, shoul­der pain, neck pain… the list goes on and on.

How to take pain man­age­ment into your

own hands

What do you when you have ac­cepted chronic pain a con­stant com­pan­ion? Fear­ing that it will never go away. For­tu­nately due to ex­ten­sive re­search into the sci­ence of pain we have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing the po­ten­tial cause of chronic pain. The first step is ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion in un­der­stand­ing the ori­gin of pain. Also adopt­ing sim­ple self-care rou­tines to help re­di­rect your at­ten­tion, can strengthen your sense of con­trol. In this ar­ti­cle we will go be­yond pain man­age­ment, and ex­plore how to dis­rupt the path­ways of pain.

Ori­gins of Pain

The ori­gin of pain can be phys­i­cally re­lated to tis­sue or nerve dam­age. It can also have a men­tal or an emo­tional ori­gin. How­ever all types of pain–or no­ci­cep­tive in­put–stem from the brain’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion of a sit­u­a­tion that is con­sid­ered harm­ful or threat­en­ing which alerts the body to go into fight or flight.

This means that no­ci­cep­tive sig­nals are al­ways real, but not al­ways re­lated to tis­sue dam­age or an im­mi­nent threat. If you are deal­ing with chronic pain it’s an im­por­tant con­cept to un­der­stand and dis­cern if the pain sig­nal is ac­tu­ally nec­es­sary for your sur­vival.

Our per­cep­tion of pain is re­lated to past ex­pe­ri­ences, also to our ex­pec­ta­tions, mood and what we fo­cus on. Our brain has an amaz­ing abil­ity to adapt and re­model neu­ro­log­i­cal path­ways in or­der to im­prove com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween dif­fer­ent brain re­gions that sends sig­nals to other parts of the body.As much as this is a good thing it can also un­know­ingly cre­ate “pain path­ways” . Dur­ing times of high stress, these pre­ferred pain path­ways be­come ac­ti­vated. Be­cause the sig­nal is trav­el­ing along the most fre­quently used path­way.

Ig­nor­ing pain in­creases your ner­vous sys­tem’s sen­si­tiv­ity to pain, while also de­creas­ing your abil­ity to lo­cal­ize and spec­ify the no­ci­cep­tive sig­nals. Which means that even the light­est touch or stim­u­lus can cause a global over­whelm­ing pain sen­sa­tion.

Ef­fec­tive self-care for

pain man­age­ment

Of course the nat­u­ral re­ac­tion to pain (or a fear of feel­ing pain) is avoid­ance of any move­ment, po­si­tion or sit­u­a­tion we be­lieve is as­so­ci­ated with, or is caus­ing, dis­com­fort. Some­times this strat­egy can be de­bil­i­tat­ing for some­one with chronic pain. How­ever, you don’t want to com­pletely ig­nore pain sig­nals. So what do you do?

Use the breath to calm

your­self down

A good first step when man­ag­ing chronic pain is to aid the ner­vous sys­tem calm down.Your brain is more sen­si­tive to no­ci­cep­tive sig­nals when you’re stressed, there­fore al­low­ing your­self to re­lax to soothe the parasym­pa­thetic ner­vous sys­tem can be help­ful. Be­gin by tak­ing deep slow breaths helps to en­gage the di­aphragm that is con­nected to the Va­gus nerve, which con­trols the parasym­pa­thetic re­sponse. It is known that deep ab­dom­i­nal breath­ing is the fastest way to en­ter a more calm and re­laxed state of be­ing.

Cul­ti­vate a Mind Set

The next step is to cul­ti­vate a mind­set to re­di­rect your at­ten­tion, cre­ate a sense of con­trol and help to re­train your brain’s pain per­cep­tion. By set­ting a deeply rooted pos­i­tive in­ten­tion for a spe­cific as­pect of your life. Cre­at­ing a sankalpa in the form of a short sen­tence that’s easy to re­peat will plant a pow­er­ful seed in your mind. A seed that can grow and serve as a guide to help you craft new and pain-free path­ways in your brain. Such as “I am pain free, and I move around eas­ily and ef­fort­lessly”.

In­duce all over re­lax­ation

An­other way is to im­prove your pro­pri­o­cep­tion abil­ity to sense the po­si­tion, ori­en­ta­tion and move­ment of dif­fer­ent body parts. It’s also a sen­sory in­for­ma­tion sys­tem that’s in­versely re­lated to no­ci­cep­tion. In other words, pro­pri­o­cep­tive sig­nals tend to in­hibit no­ci­cep­tion, which means that this can be an ef­fec­tive strat­egy for re­duc­ing pain. Im­prov­ing body aware­ness helps de­velop your abil­ity to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween dif­fer­ent types of no­ci­cep­tive sig­nals.With a ball on the floor or at the wall is a good start­ing point.

The soft pres­sure from the ball stim­u­lates re­cep­tors in your mus­cles, ten­dons and dif­fer­ent lay­ers of fas­cia.This kind of ther­apy can help your brain re-in­ter­pret sig­nals that were pre­vi­ously thought of as no­ci­cep­tion and there­fore reg­is­tered by the brain as pain.

Re-In­tro­duce Move­ment

Af­ter these 3 steps reIn­tro­duce move­ment to fur­ther im­prove pro­pri­o­cep­tion, in­creas­ing strength and build­ing con­fi­dence. This will fur­ther en­hance the pos­i­tive neuro path­ways to­ward lib­er­a­tion from pain.

If you en­joyed this ar­ti­cle please let us know. Jes­sica Ro­mano, ND,

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