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Much Ado About Pain

Hello East County,

Pain, pain, pain. It’s at the forefront of many peoples’ minds. Sometimes physical, sometimes emotional, sometimes psychological. Our brains are vast networks of relationships that work together with a goal of maintaining homeostasis. Many people think of physical pain as being a tissue injury of our musculoskeletal system, but would it surprise you to learn that physical pain is affected by many other systems in our body? There are different parts in our brain that respond as a team to form a reaction to every environmental stimulus. It’s how we react in stressful situations, it’s how we sense a threat and safety, it’s how we love and hate. These reactions are based on our genes and how our unique environment has shaped how those genes are expressed. These established but changeable pathways are the same pathways that are used to interpret pain. We need context to interpret pain. Think about this common example of a toddler falling and scraping their knee with a little blood. The child at first doesn’t react, but then if they see blood or see an adult react with a little excessive urgency, they start crying. Now as adults, what context do we get from the medical establishment? Everyone wants to tell you how broken you are. I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard, “The doc said my knee is the worst they have ever seen” when reviewing an x-ray. Everyone has their own answer too. Pain meds, surgery, spinal adjustment, braces, etc.  Not that they do not have their place, but what is the common theme, they are passive and simplistic answers to oftentimes, complex issues.  Rarely do I hear stories from patients that they received positive recommendations and motivations to empower the patient to HELP THEMSELVES through their pain experience. Mental health and psychology have received such a bad rap that we only think it is for people who are “mentally ill,” but you cannot discount the brain’s role in pain. It is everything. It is the thing that synthesizes all of the input from the environment to make a judgment and reaction. What does the brain use to make the decision? Obviously the severity of the injury, but also past injuries and recoveries, what we are told by experts, and every other interaction that is involved in how your life will be affected by the injury. What happens at home, what happens at work, what happens within, what is expected of you? All of those factors play within the framework of your genetic predisposition. Everyone is different. Every single person’s pain is unique. So what is the best thing that we can do to help you? It seems strange to think that the best thing would be to play the role of the overreacting parent and tell you how broken you are, but that is what happens every day. We need to do better for you. We need to be more educated about the pain process. We need to stop stigmatizing the mental aspects of pain. I have seen absolutely incredible transformations in people that have been written off by the medical community and suffer day-in and day-out in pain. Does their pain disappear? It depends, but if it doesn’t, they are able to understand and work within their life much better. They are again able LIVE LIFE ON THEIR TERMS.

I am here to walk with you on your Journey to Live Life Intentionally.

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