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Pain Issue vs. Tissue Issue

Pain Issue vs. Tissue Issue

If you have chronic pain you likely need a different treatment approach compared to the first few weeks after the injury.  As tissues heal fairly quickly you may not have an injury to the tissues any longer even though you still have pain.  While the pain likely started with a tissue injury, our body sometimes adapts in a way that still causes us to have pain after the injury has healed.  This happens when the nerves get sensitized and maintain a high reactivity to pain.  This high state of reactivity can maintain pain even when the injury is no longer  present. 
Two main characteristics of this are an increased sensitivity to pain and touch (or pressure).  Medically these are known as “allodynia” and “hyperalgesia”.  Because of the heightened state of reactivity of the nerves these normally non painful sensations are registering with the brain as painful sensations and now cause pain.  Not only can they cause pain in larger areas, they can be painful for a longer time than normal, and even cause pain in areas not close to the initial site of injury.
If you have had chronic pain for a long time you may have realized that your pain is not proportional to your activities or injuries.  For instance a small bump into a table while walking should not give you crippling pain.  If you have noticed these any of the symptoms above you may be suffering from a “Pain Issue” instead of an issue with the tissues.  These issues are very different from common tissue problems and treatment should be as well.  The first part of getting better with these conditions is realizing the difference.    There are many things you can do on your own such as starting a low impact exercise program (working up to 30 min/day), getting better sleep, and reading up on your condition that can start helping immediately so don’t delay.  If you have noticed these “pain issues” please contact us and we will work with you to get you the education, tools, and treatment to start getting you better.

Jamie Bovay

Atlas Physical Therapy