You are relaxing at home on the couch – your body systems are in balance…
Suddenly a big African lion leaps into the room. What would happen inside your body? To deal with this threat, your body systems react to protect you. Your body floods with adrenaline- a stress chemical to fight or run away, your breathing changes- faster and shallower, blood flow to your big muscles groups increases. These are some of the changes that take place in multiple body systems. Would it be time to digest lunch? Take a nap? Sit up tall with your posture muscles? No. Your body would be getting ready to deal with the threat and would not be concerned with these activities. A zookeeper arrives 10 minutes later and leads the lion away. Your body systems would then have a chance to calm down, go back to their regular duties and all would be in balance again.
When you have persistent or chronic pain, you have a massive lion following you around all day. There is no zookeeper coming to restore balance. Pain, like other stressors, changes what your body systems are doing. This is good for threats or stress in the short term, but causes further difficulty when constant activation of the fight or flight system disrupts sleep, decreases posture muscle activity, changes breathing and causes increased muscle tension to further increase pain.
1 in 4 people have persistent or chronic pain.
This means pain that has gone on longer than normal or expected healing time or greater than one year. We now know that an extra sensitive alarm/ pain system may be a contributing factor to persistent pain. Think of it like a car alarm that goes off when someone walks by the car, not when a thief is breaking in. Many factors contribute to an increased sensitivity in your alarm system.
There are many options for treating and learning about your pain. I have completed training in pain neuroscience education this past year and am excited to work with you. This, combined with movement and other treatments aimed to calm the nervous system, have been shown to decrease pain and more importantly allow you to live your life despite the pain. Together, with lots of hard work, we can turn that lion into a cute and cuddly cub.
Chronic or persistent pain can be treated. If you would like more information on physical therapy for chronic pain, please contact Amy Simmons, PT at Wieber Physical Therapy.