It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt
If you’ve ever experienced chronic and persistent pain before, you will know there aren’t many things you wouldn’t try at the promise of a reduction or removal of the suffering you feel. It’s mentally draining, life altering and, if battled with for long enough, can even lead to knock on conditions such as depression.
However, what few patients do understand is the importance of starting treatment as soon as possible. Although it can be tempting to just rest and give it time, the reality is that, as soon as you feel pain your body immediately starts to adapt, which creates what is known as a pain cycle.
A pain cycle is a vicious spiral of poor posture and unbalanced motion creating chronic pain and recurring injury.
The cycle starts with a simple injury. Once injured, the body moves to avoid pain. You’ve probably experienced it yourself. It may be a slight limp or a tendency to favour one side more than another. Whatever it may be, if it hurts to move normally, but feels better to move with your body distorted, your motion will become distorted.
Because pain causes the body to compensate, over time the muscles, ligaments and nerves adapt and learn to move differently. The result may be that some muscles tighten up, others may weaken. Your ligaments will stretch to allow for the new and uneven body motion and even your nerves learn to adapt to allow for the imbalance in your movement and motion.
The body is a wonderful thing.
However, we are not designed to move in an unbalanced way. Unbalanced motion creates chronic postural changes and the body changes accordingly. Whilst you may think that you have fully recovered and can get back to normal movement, trying to exercise with unbalanced motion only serves to aggravate the problem.
Picture a piece of paper. Now imagine folding that piece of paper – creating a crease across its usually smooth surface. What happens once that piece of paper is put under some form of stress (a light breeze for example), is it will bend along the fold.
The same thing happens to the body. Once you have changed the way in which you move to compensate for the pain, your body’s muscle memory kicks in and will continue this poor pattern of motion. This adaption to your ligaments and muscles then creates a new injury, for which the body adapts. And the cycle continues.
The only real way to break the cycle of pain is to restore normal movement as soon as possible.
Most people will have their go-to injury solution. For some it is physiotherapy or osteopathy. Others may turn to a chiropractor or acupuncturist. And whilst these options will, most often, help to reduce pain and improve movement, sometimes they will need to form part of a complementary treatment plan to manage the immediate symptoms whilst restoring full movement in the longer term.
The secret to getting the right treatment plan is in getting the correct diagnosis as soon as possible after the onset of pain. As soon as a pain cycle starts, the body starts to adapt.
And once that adaptation begins, the distinction between the injury and the related symptoms becomes more complicated.
The quicker you can treat the issue and restore normal movement, the less likely the patient is to require more invasive treatment. Obviously, in some cases it is unavoidable, but much pain and money could be saved if patients received comprehensive care as soon as possible, after the onset of their pain.
Are you suffering from your own pain or injury?
Avicenna Clinic, based in Peterborough city centre, is an independent, consultant-led private healthcare practice offering personalised health care to self-pay and insured patients.
Patients attending the clinic can often make a same day appointment, see a consultant, begin diagnostics and receive a treatment plan all in a single visit.