Pain as an indicator #1

Sometimes people have something hurt and there is good reason to avoid the pain because of recent injury from trauma.  Other times the pain is there for no apparent reason and people are not sure that it isn't just an old injury stirred up so they back away and avoid hurting things further. There are also instances where you find applying a load to a pain is relieving and starts things feeling better.

A simple way to try to get an idea of how to manage an ongoing constant pain is to load the area and see how it responds.

If you had a sprained finger and you pulled your finger backwards it would possibly aggravate and increase the area of pain or the intensity of what you are feeling.  Another response might be that although it hurts to stretch the finger there might be no change in the underlying are or intensity of symptoms.  Lastly you might find, surprisingly, that the area of pain receedes or the intensity reduces once you stop loading the area. This might be where you have pressure on a disc or cartilage and once you apply load there is less pressure in the incorrect direction and things start to settle.

So simply put, if you get a big reaction that lasts for a long time after you test a movement it is best to leave that movement alone for the short term.  If there is discomfort that is not worsened by loading then you might cautiously explore this direction of movment in your exercises as long as you are getting a reasonable response e.g. any aggravation dies down really quickly.  If the movements actually start to make you feel better (in the sense of less pain or a reduction of the area of pain) once you stop loading then could be a good strategy to apply load routinely every couple of hours and then assess how much better you had become (or not) after a day or two.

Pain is an experience and will be modified by your expectations.. Sometimes having a strategy for testing what you feel, and a sense that what you find is reasonable, makes the experience far less frightening and perhaps alot more manageable.

See if this is of any help.

Cheers, Ross 

5 thoughts on “Pain as an indicator #1

    • You are very welcome. I am glad that you found it informative. Hopefully you can use the information to help yourself or someone else you know. The true goal for a physiotherapist/physical therapist is to make yourself unnecessary! If I’ve helped you then I am one step closer to achieving this goal, thank you! :’ )

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