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The Problem of Pain- not always easy to pinpoint……. 4 Reasons Why

The Problem of Pain- not always easy to pinpoint……. 4 Reasons Why

Physiotherapists spend a great deal of time discussing pain, it is a very complex subject, and some aspects can be very difficult to wrap ones head around.

As physiotherapists, when we assess a patient, we tend to look at other areas other than where the pain is reported and we often get asked why, for this question there are several reasons why;

  1. If someone has sustained a trauma, the issue they are most concerned about may not be the only injury, rather just the more painful one!  It is important to rule out whether there have been any other structures that may have sustained damage in the trauma to make sure they aren’t hiding behind something that’s just shouting louder!
  2. Another reason we may look further afield may be that we think the pain may be coming from a nerve in your neck or back, so this would be the most effective area to treat rather than down the leg or arm.  We can compare this to stepping on a dog’s tail.  It barks out of one end, but the problem is at the tail, when we stop stepping on the poor dog, it stops barking!
  3. If your pain has come about with no history of trauma or doesn’t appear to be coming from the neck or back, we also need to start looking at movement dysfunctions.  Common examples of this are when someone is getting neck pain and headaches due to muscle tightness, why are these muscles getting tight?  Often it is as a result of upper back stiffness and weakness in some of the muscles around the shoulder which can cause the neck muscles to over work.  In the lower body, we often see a weakness in the outer hip can cause lower back pain.
  4. Occasionally, pain isn’t necessarily directly associated with an injury or pathology but has more to do with how a sensation is perceived in the brain which is where things get incredibly complex!  If we look at pain as an output, with the input being something as simple as light touch.  The light touch we will compare to a whisper, so the response from the body should be a whisper back.  Sometimes the brain can get a bit mixed up with these signals and responds to a whisper with a shout in a megaphone (pain).  

Physiotherapists are trained to deal with all of these issues that arise from pain and can advise you on how best to manage your symptoms…..even if the problem isn’t where you originally thought it was!

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