PAIN – Why do we feel it and how do we manage it?

Pain is all about protection – we usually experience it as a result of an injury, and its function is mostly to protect our bodies from further damage and allow for healing to occur.

As the injured tissues start to heal, aggravating movements become less painful. However, in some cases the pain may remain even though the tissue has completely healed (this condition may present in as many as 10 – 30% of all injuries). In these cases, the remaining pain is no longer a warning sign but has rather become the problem. This may be due to a miscommunication from the brain whereby it may be amplifying information from the previously injured body tissue, resulting in the area still feeling sensitive. This is an example of what is called Central Sensitivity associated with chronic pain.

Those experiencing chronic pain tend to protect the painful area by restricting movement. This in turn may cause muscles to weaken and tighten which can further inhibit movement. The brain then responds by further sensitising the injured area, even though there is no longer any danger or threat to the body tissue.

Physiotherapists understand that you can have pain symptoms even when the injury has completely healed, and can assist you to get moving normally again without fear of causing additional injury or damage.

Movement and exercise can help alleviate pain through the release of endorphins. Endorphins are the body's natural painkillers, and they are 50 times stronger than any pain-relieving drugs currently in use. The key to this highly effective painkiller is to understand which types of exercises are best for you to do.

Your physiotherapist can evaluate your situation and prescribe the best activities and exercises for you,
with the ultimate aim to help you return to optimum movement and function. For assistance with any pain-related disorders, contact your physiotherapist today!

By Marion Payne. For more information, call 011-524-0991, or email Information kindly supplied by the South African Society of Physiotherapy