Pain: causes and treatment

Acute Pain

To understand pain properly we must remember that it’s a process built into our bodies to protect us.  

You can think of it as the body’s alarm system.  It is meant to protect us from actual bodily harm and for the most part, it does this job admirably. Think about the last time you tweaked your neck or back, or maybe injured yourself in the gym or on the sports field.  The pain from this acute injury is often sharp and stinging and will be aggravated by movement of the area.  It’s designed to stop you from moving it more until it has time to heal.

This type of pain is known as acute pain. It’s the most common type of pain from an injury, a sports injury, a joint sprain, a muscle tear or anything else that would bring you to one of the practitioners at Sydney Health Professionals. It can be very intense and disabling, depending on the nature and severity of the injury.

Sub-acute pain

Slower and a more aching type of pain can be associated with ongoing injuries.  This might come on after the initial injury, maybe over the next couple of days or weeks.  It is quite often prevalent at night or after periods of resting.

This pain is the result of very interesting and complex changes in your nervous and immune system.  The initial injury has been noticed by the body and this has triggered inflammatory changes in the tissue.  People often think of inflammation as bad but it’s a vital part of healing injuries properly.  Slower, aching pain is often a sign that you have some inflammation whirring away in your body, marshalling healing cells and removing damaged ones.

Seeing one of our therapists with aching pain is important.  We can provide hands-on therapies to help you feel better and advise about when and how to start moving the area again – an essential part of healing properly.  We can also estimate time to full recovery, which can be very useful if you are dealing with a workplace injury or are in a competitive sporting environment.

Persistent and ongoing pain

Finally, and most importantly, there are some people whose pain continues, even after the initial injury has healed.  This is a complex and difficult problem, but it is alarmingly common.  Did you know that 1 in 5 Australians suffers from what can be classified as chronic, ongoing or persistent pain?

These debilitating painful states can come along with lots of other medical issues, like arthritis, injuries from accidents like car accidents, the after-effects of surgery or cancer therapies, lower back injuries, post-pregnancy pelvic pain, or it can just develop on its own, or from a minor injury.

Persistent and ongoing pain is a huge problem for our society, causing billions of dollars every year in lost work & absenteeism, unnecessary medical procedures, significant psychological distress, profound relationship stress and drug and alcohol addiction.

If you or one of your loved ones has persistent or ongoing pain, it’s important you seek out some good medical care.  Our therapists at SHP have been chosen for their caring approach and their ability with complex cases.  We can help you manage the pain proactively, without drugs.  We can also help you create self-management strategies and ongoing management plans.

Other good advice for ongoing pain:

  • Seek out a good GP and a physical therapist like an Osteopath who you trust and can use to help manage the symptoms.
  • Explore the other reasons you may be suffering.  If you have mental health issues like depression or anxiety, seek out some psychological care. There are Medicare rebates that can make this affordable if you talk to your GP.
  • Take some action in your life to try and reduce your stress.  Schedule more time to be with people whose company you enjoy and who understand your issue.
  • Exercise regularly and gently.  Most body-related issues, including pain, get better over time if you get fitter, even just a little bit.  Don’t overdo it.  If you need help, an exercise physiologist can help instruct you and progress exercises if you are in the dark about what to do.
  • Minimise harm!  If you know certain things make your pain worse, you must reduce your exposure to them.  This can seem harder than it really is.  For example, lots of our patients say when they sit, their back pain is worse, but they have to sit for work.  So try timing how long you can sit for before it gets painful.  Then set an alarm for that length of time over the entire day.  Every time that alarm goes off you should be out of the chair and doing some walking or stretching.
  • Take action now, we’re here to help!

Make an appointment today to see one of our Osteopaths and discuss how we can create an individualised plan to get you back to optimum health.

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