What is Pain?
In short pain is an inflammatory (swelling) response. It is not a pinched nerve contrary to popular belief. If you cut your arm you have pain because of the cut (tissue injury), then why do we assume that back or other pain is a pinched nerve. Mostly because of what everyone else says
Tissue injury occurs when the cell wall is broke and leads to the release of intracellular chemicals that stimulate nociceptors (the pain nerves) that travel to the brain and lead to pain sensation.
In short, this is a normal daily process but we don’t feel pain because another set of nerves travel from the brain and block this. When the amount of injury increases the normal inhibition no longer stops the pain sensation and we feel pain.
Normal movement in joints and muscles activate mechanoreceptors that are part of this pain inhibitory pathway, so movement helps to decrease pain. So what can we do to help with pain and eliminate the sensation of feeling pain?
- Diet – we are what we eat…….. If our diet consists of foods that are inflammatory in nature then we eat ourselves into a state of chronic inflammation. Research will show that the majority of diseases (not just pain) occur do to chronic inflammation. Eat better and our bodies will work better.
- Daily stretching – if our muscles are tight they are more prone to pulls and injury. This tightness also affects the movement of joints and decreases the amount of mechanoreception, and as shown above leads to the possibility of increase pain sensation.
- Activity – use it or lose it….. Our bodies are made to move and a healthy body is a body in motion. Many tissues in our body are nourished via movement and if they are not moving they are breaking down more then normal and again pain sets in.
- Stress reduction – easier said then done. Stress management plays a vital role in our health, stress is needed in our bodies to make stronger, but for the most part too much and chronic stress leads our bodies to a state of inflammation and increased tightness across our muscles.
- Posture awareness – we are slowly becoming a flexion dominant society (bent forward). Our bodies are not made to operate in this position and causes muscle imbalances that lead to increased tightness and once again inflammation.