Chronic pain is very common in today’s society for several reasons. I find that most patients believe that for pain to occur, there must be something physically wrong. This is actually not necessarily the case. As a matter of fact, chronic pain can last long after the body is fully healed from any actual damage. So what causes us to have pain long after our body has actually healed from an injury?
There is a long-winded scientific explanation for this but let me keep it simple. Our body contains nerves which send signals from the body to our spinal cord or brain, and back again. Its how our brain knows what’s going on with the body. When we don’t take care of ourselves for a long period of time, our nerves can become more sensitive to certain things. So there doesn’t even need to be any actual tissue damage at all, for us to experience pain!
However, in the case of an injury, the body begins to heal itself right away, which is actually the purpose of swelling after an injury. Most minor injuries such as minor ankle sprains, “pulling a muscle”, and small bumps and bruises are fully healed within 4-6 weeks at the longest! Despite this, many people continue to have pain following minor injuries for up to several years. Why?
Oftentimes, its because the nerves are continuing to send pain signals to the brain. Scientists are not completely sure why this happens but there are some factors that we know which can contribute to this. Lack of sleep, excessive stress/anxiety and yes, even poor nutrition can lead to a small injury turning into chronic pain. The body works heals in a healthy environment. The good news is that these are all areas that you can address on your own!
For many people, eating less “processed” foods and drinking more water results in improved neurologic function. Many people report reduced chronic pain, anxiety and well-being after making this single change in their life!
In some cases, you may require the guidance of a physical therapist to help you return to normal. After the initial evaluation, you will be given several things to work on at home which will frequently include movements or a few exercises to get your body moving properly again. The longer that the pain has been present, typically the longer the recovery takes, but you should notice big improvements within the first one to two weeks!
Reach out to a physical therapist in your area if you’re dealing with chronic pain and having trouble doing the things you love!
Thanks for reading!
Dr. Cameron Dennis, PT, DPT
Back on Track Therapy and Wellness