What’s Causing Your Pain?

What’s Causing Your Pain?

  • Posted by Kaleigh
  • On March 2, 2020
  • Comments

Pain is the primary reason most seek out a physical therapist. Whether it’s a sore back, tweaked finger or pulled muscle, most climbers and athletes feel pain at some point. But what is pain? And how is it best treated?

Pain, Defined

The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with the actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage.”

Pain is an integrated part of the nervous system. Think of when someone scares you: You may get goosebumps, your hair may stick up, you may sweat or your heart and breathing rates may increase. These are automatic responses to danger. In other words, a signal to react properly to the fright.

Pain works in the same way; it’s a warning that something isn’t right.

The Bigger Picture

Pain doesn’t just happen on its own. Stress, sleep, emotions and past experiences all play into your threshold and severity of pain.

If you were to twist your ankle in the middle of the street while a bus is rapidly approaching, you would ignore that twisted ankle and get out of the way! That twisted ankle has low priority when compared to a bus hurtling toward you. I.E., the context of your situation makes the feeling of pain much less.

Let’s say you’re walking barefoot on carpet. The soft, cushioned surface feels pretty nice on your feet. Then, you step on a tac. The surface area is small, but the stimulus will likely be interpreted as pain. The touch must be beyond a threshold of “normal” (the soft surface that the rest of your feet feel) in order to trigger the pain response in your nervous system, which is designed for flight or fight and avoidance of danger.

So, What Can You Do?

If you feel discomfort, the best thing to do is to stop the activity that directly causes the feeling. If you don’t, your nervous system will become more sensitive to the stimulus of that specific area over time, and eventually less stressful activities or exercises will trigger even more pain.

Maintaining good flexibility, strength, posture and movement coordination can reduce your pain and risk of injuries. If you are experiencing pain, it will likely cause you to move differently and stress other regions of your body, which is not what you want to happen.

As physical therapists at Rogue Rehabilitation and Performance on the second floor in the O.G., we’re able to help you evaluate your pain or injury and assess for compensatory patterns. Schedule a visit today and let us help you keep your warning sirens quiet.

BY ADAM SCHILTZ
Physical Therapist, Rogue Rehabilitation and Performance