Does Pain Always Mean There is an Injury?
Updated: Jul 29, 2022
When we cut our finger chopping veggies or sprain our ankle and experience pain as a result, it makes sense. In these situations, pain is alerting us that something potentially dangerous has happened, motivating us to take action, whether that means cleaning a wound to prevent infection, or easing off weight bearing on injured ligaments so that they can heal. We know that most tissue injuries heal as time goes by, and when everything is working as it should, the pain should subside over time as well. But what about when we wake up with a kink in the neck? Or the onset of back pain unrelated to a mechanism of injury? It becomes much more difficult to tell what the pain is signalling in these instances. Often times, when we don’t understand why we have pain, there can be worry and even fear associated with this experience. We might even behave in a protective manner, as though there is an injury. Research tells us that pain does not correlate well to the state of our tissues, and that we can experience pain in the absence of injury. So, what then? How should we manage pain, in the absence of tissue injury? Is it safe to move or to continue to exercise? What are the chances that this pain persist? What does the pain mean? The answers to these common questions depends highly on the individual, and speaks to the complexity of pain. Understanding some of the mechanisms involved with pain and the factors that may influence our experience of pain can be helpful to make a bit of sense and to feel more in control of your pain, rather than letting the pain control you & your actions. Working with a healthcare provider who understands pain and can provide you with guidance as to how to manage your pain, know what movements are safe to do and how to modify activities that trigger or increase pain can be helpful. Book an osteopathic assessment to find out what your pain is telling you.