Pain, the overprotective warning system
Picture, if you will, that pain is like an over protective guard dog. When the dog barks, it’s warning you of potential intruder to your house, much like how pain is warning you of potential damage to your body. A well trained dog knows the difference between what is a threat and who is your lovely Auntie Pam coming to visit, but if your house has been broken into a couple of times and traumatised your dog, they might start barking at anyone that evens walks past the front door!
Similarly, your past experiences with pain and injuries can influence the sensitivity of your warning system, and increase your pain when it might not be advantageous to you. How is Auntie Pam supposed to come visit if your dog is getting in the way? How are you supposed to engage in life if pain is limiting your function?
The trick is to start slow. Pick something that is uncomfortable, but tolerable, and slowly get used to it over time and build up your tolerance to it. Retraining your pain system can be as difficult as teaching an old dog new tricks, but the key is to practice consistently.
Graded exposure is one of the many tools we like to use at PhysioWest, as it helps people to re-engage with life again! If this intrigues you, come in to have a chat about it with any one of our knowledgeable physios.