Image credit((Source: “Woman in pain shields her face with multiple hands,” CC0 Creative Commons License via Pixabay »))
Hands On Healing, located in Montgomery, Alabama, understands why the body feels pain and provides assessments and treatments that treat pain at its source.
Chronic pain is certainly one of the most difficult circumstances that you can be faced with, as it can interfere with both your physical capacity to function, as well as your mental well being from the constant nag of discomfort.
But pain is merely a message, a signal sent to the brain as a warning that something is not functioning as it should or is threatening the homeostasis of the body.
Instead of being a nuisance, pain is in fact a safety mechanism, trying to help you with something that could be a serious issue.
Providing the correct therapy for chronic pain can be difficult to pin down to a simple solution.
The pain signal that you feel could be directly related to a torn tendon or ligament if you rolled your ankle.
These issues require a trained doctor to properly diagnosis your condition and give recommendations on treatment methods.
What if your pain is your body’s way of preventing you from damaging something?
Perhaps your daily movements are beginning to cause a repetitive stress injury, like a rotator cuff tear, and your brain is quickly stopping you from pushing so far that you actually cause much more serious damage.
These issues are much more encompassing, as several different structures and patterns can be involved in their development and progression, and the application of therapy must take all of this into account.
When assessing a pattern in which the body is using pain to prevent movement that may cause damage, we as therapists often spend a lot of time explaining the connection that is shared between upper and lower structures in the body.
Using shoulder pain as an example, the pain signal may be suddenly preventing you from more seriously damaging the rotator cuff, but why would the shoulder be so strained in the first place?
The answer might just be your pelvis and legs.
Figure 1 (click to enlarge) is a depiction of the body’s Functional Lines, from Tom Myers Anatomy Trains® model.
These lines are the body’s way of transmitting force and movement through cross patterns, leading from the shoulders to the opposite side hip, in both the front and back of the body.
Every time you take a step when walking, you rely on these lines to coordinate your movements so that you don’t simply fall over.
The purpose of bringing these particular lines into discussion is that they represent one of the most difficult concepts for us as therapists to explain and teach to our clients.
The body is a fully organized system and relies on each part of the body to properly do its job, otherwise compensations must occur to keep us functioning.
If the structure of your hips and pelvis is widely unbalanced and struggling to maintain basic functions in movement, the body will adjust and distribute that imbalance to its connected structures, which in this case would be the upper torso and shoulders.
The same can occur in the opposite direction, with the shoulders making demands on the lower body and altering your balance and walking, leading to pain and dysfunction.
In either case it’s important that all structures be considered when assessing the body’s organization and movement.
All too often, a client will request that a large amount of time be spent treating an area of localized discomfort and pain, hoping that the symptoms will subside.
This approach, however, may leave underlying tissue restrictions and movement imbalances left unchecked, and, in no time at all the symptoms will come back full force.
Often the best long-term solution to chronic pain is to focus on creating a balanced body, both structurally and functionally, instead of treating a pain symptom.