Have you or someone you know experienced unexplained pain, intermittent pain, lingering pain, or chronic pain? Pain impacts our daily lives, from our physical to emotional to cognitive abilities. It affects our health, but is it the actual cause of our health problems?
Pain is such a tricky "diagnosis" - probably because it isn't a diagnosis at all; it is a symptom of a diagnosis. As a therapist, I have seen prescriptions/referrals for the generic diagnosis of "pain" over and over again, and it basically tells me the provider is unaware of the actual problem. Pain is a warning sign that something is not right in the body. It is calling your attention to a problem, so that you can address it and improve your health. Survival is the body's main objective.
Think of a hot stove. If you put your hand on it, you are going to experience pain. The problem is not that you are in pain; the problem is your hand is touching a surface that is literally burning your skin off. Burns and infections are not in line with your body's objective of survival.
So, what does chronic pain tell you? Something has been wrong, is wrong, and is going to continue to be wrong until you do something to fix it!
Addressing the pain itself can be beneficial, especially when you have to make a living, take care of the kids, clean the house, do the laundry, etc. etc. etc. Pain is also depressing, and the pain/depression/lack of motivation cycle can spiral downward quickly. I'm not saying don't do anything to mask the pain. However, masking the pain should be seen as a temporary fix to eliminate an obstacle (pain) until you can better address it (fix the underlying cause). It is not a permanent solution and can become dangerous for a few reasons:
What method of pain management are you using? Is it a chemical toxin that can cause even more damage on top of whatever is causing your pain? Is it safe to be using this method for a long period of time? Is it doing more harm than good?
As I mentioned, pain is a warning sign that something else is wrong. Masking pain has the psychological effect of making you believe the problem has been solved and no additional (and often more challenging/time consuming) work needs to be done. This promotes a passive approach to health and wellness. Being healthy is a conscious decision that requires action and effort!
Let's go back to the stove. How would you solve this problem: try to mask the pain or listen to your body's warning sign that something is wrong and remove your hand from the stove? It's a no-brainer, really. Our reflexes basically take over at that point. Our bodies do not want to do anything that will damage our health and decrease our chance of survival.
The problem is our lives have evolved so much that it is not always as simple as removing a hand from a hot stove. Our lives are complex with technology that ruins our posture, chemical stressors in the air and our food, emotional stress of feeling like we have a million things to do all the time, and the list goes on and on.
So what is causing the pain? Whether it is the occasional headache or the daily pain of arthritis or fibromyalgia, there is an underlying cause, or a few underlying causes, of these symptoms. Tracy and I both have extensive personal and professional experience dealing with pain, and we have come up with a list of 10 common causes of pain. Of course this is not an all-inclusive list, but it explains some of the more popular causes we have seen. Be sure to listen until the end, as the last couple are things we know are affecting your life in some way! Learn how to dig deeper, determine the cause of your pain, and address the cause so you can minimize or even eliminate your pain!
If you need help in any of these areas, schedule a free 30 minute consultation to discuss issues you are having and determine how I can help. I am happy to assist you!
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Have a great day, and be well!