It’s never just one thing that causes your pain, in the end it comes down to a combination of things – how you move, how you recover/heal, but most importantly how your nervous system is working.
According to the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP), pain is defined as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.”
This is an important statement of modern pain science – so let’s break it down then I’ll explain how this helps YOU live with less pain. The two most important points from this statement – pain is a sensory experience and can happen with the threat of potential tissue damage. We can conclude that we can experience pain without tissue damage.This is a revolution in the treatment of pain and is confirmed by numerous studies that show people can experience no pain even when they have structural abnormalities like bulging discs, torn rotator cuffs or a torn meniscus.
The system has failed you
The modern treatment of pain (or in reality orthopedic & pain management doctors) have failed miserably with their treatment approaches. Cutting out necessary structures is neither evidence based (for example the evidence for meniscus surgery is so poor that it is recommended that the procedure is no longer performed) or a logical idea for the vast majority of conditions. By hunting for singular pain generators based on imaging we have created a broken surgical system and a massive tidal wave of prescriptions for harsh substances (NSAIDs & Opiates) which do nothing in the actual treatment of pain.
What does this mean for you?
In the end it comes down to nerves. Our body has a number of different ways to take in information from the world and filter and process that information in complex centers of our brian. We have nerve fibers that sense noxious (potentially harmful or unpleasant) signals, some that sense heat, vibration and proprioception (where we are in time and space).
If the nervous system is not functioning properly then the body is not able to produce pain-free movement, even if the structures of the body are in working order. You experience painful movement with chronic injuries because the nervous system isn’t working properly, not necessarily because of physical damage to the muscles, tendons or joints (although they may contribute to the pain). A dysfunction in the nervous system results in a disconnect between muscles and the central nervous system, causing not only pain but also weakness and the inability to move properly.
One of the best, and most researched, therapies to treat chronic pain is electro-acupuncture (also known as neurofunctional acupuncture) because of its multi-level effect in the central nervous system.
Electro-acupuncture causes a release of neurotransmitters and neuropeptides into the peripheral and central nervous system to help block nociceptive (pain) signals. It basically cleans out and resets your nervous system so that it stops overreacting to normal stimuli, which helps reduce pain.
The Good News
Electro-acupuncture can help you to live with less pain! It is well researched and is most effective when performed by a well trained and experience professional (like me, Dr. Josh Hanson in Tampa, FL). There is a HUGE difference my training level and your everyday physical therapist who took a short weekend course on dry needling and pretends to use needles every day. I spend every single day using only these very specific and specialized therapies like dry needling & electro-acupuncture to help people move better and live with less pain.