More than 20 percent of the U.S. adult population, or 50 million people, are trying to manage chronic pain. More than 20 million of them have what is known as “high-impact pain” where the pain is so severe, it can limit everything from activities of daily living to exercise to going to work. These estimates are from the Centers of Disease Control and the National Interview Survey that looked at the health of more than 30,000 adults.
Let’s begin by first taking a look at the differences between acute and chronic pain. According to Medicinenet.com
“Acute pain is of sudden onset and is usually the result of a clearly defined cause such as an injury. Acute pain resolves with the healing of its underlying cause. Chronic pain persists for weeks or months and is usually associated with an underlying condition, such as arthritis. The severity of chronic pain can be mild, moderate, or severe.”Medicine.net
It seems that everyone you talk with these days is dealing with some form of chronic pain. From those that I’ve spoken to, three areas of the body seem to be most prominent: the low back, knees and shoulder area. It also seems that each individual has their own way of trying to manage their chronic pain.
Case Study: Managing Chronic Pain
Over the past few months I’ve known a few people who were diagnosed with various stress injuries. Each resulting from either exercise or a repetitive movement. No one in this group had ever broken a bone or experienced any type stress fracture in their life…until now. As a result, their gait was thrown off and their body became severely de-conditioned over time. The body is an amazing organism. When we have an injury, the body tries to compensate in order to function. Each individual tried to maintain some type of basic exercise routine as best they could. For example, one friend tried to maintain her fitness level by biking outdoors for about 30-75 minutes 3-4 times a week. They had a stress fracture in one of their toes that they were dealing with.
As a result of an injury, it’s easy to start popping medications in order to alleviate the pain. Chronic pain can take its toll not only physically but mentally as well. It’s also easy to try different alternative therapies because you’re trying to be proactive. Different therapies, like massage therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic and even regular exercise and yoga may help. The issue, however, is they don’t address the root cause of the pain. Why did the injury happen in the first place? What is the mechanism hiding behind the injury? Different specialist will give you varying reasons why this has happened to you. Some will not even offer you that much insight, just try to treat it. They treat the symptom(s), again, not the root cause.
Myofascial Therapy Can Help Manage Chronic Pain
A few friends found that myofascial therapy worked really well. This is typically performed by someone like a physical therapist who has had additional training working with fascia. They are trained to address the issues not with various modalities but manually (i.e. using their hands) helping to release tight fascia (connective tissue) around the injured area.
One person found that the Egoscue Method worked really well. This method was founded by anatomical physiologist, Pete Egoscue, decades ago. He built a great reputation helping famous golfers get out of pain. It involves a full digital assessment followed up with specific bodyweight only exercises to address the issue and realign the spine and body. He has a great book, which I’ve read and recommend often, called Pain Free on Amazon.
This was one of the first therapies that offered me, when I was previously injured, an idea of why my injury occurred in the first place. For me it was all about finding that mechanism that caused the injury in the first place. I was then able to address it, and begin to work on specific exercises to – in my case, realign the spine and hips – eventually getting me back to a healthy (posture) baseline. My job is to now work on those specific, daily, movements (i.e. prehab) in order to prevent this from happening again.
Additional Modalities for Managing Chronic Pain
Massage therapy, acupuncture, meditation, cryotherapy, flotation tank, chiropractic, yoga, foam rolling and even exercise can all help. Each modality is beneficial and has a place at the table in managing chronic pain. I have personally tried each of them and, to some extent, they all work albeit temporarily. When trying to relieve chronic pain, it’s best to have a trained therapist observe your standing posture, and how you move. Remember, if you have movement competency issues – and most of us do – you need to work on addressing those issues first. Otherwise, you may end up spending a great deal of money and investing a lot of your time without ever eliminating the pain and finding the answer to why it ever happened in the first place.
Hopefully the advice in this article is something you can use if or when needed. Don’t get comfortable taking medication or trying different therapies just because that’s what you’ve done in the past or someone recommended you give it a try. Question everything, think out of the box, be your own advocate and first and foremost, determine the root cause of the pain.
Jefit Elite Can Record & Track Your Injury History
Jefit app, named best app for 2020 and 2021 by PC Magazine, Men’s Health, The Manual and the Greatist. The app comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, training log, the ability to track data and share workouts with friends. Take advantage of Jefit’s exercise database for your strength workouts. Visit our members-only Facebook group. Connect with like-minded people, share tips, and advice to help get closer to reaching your fitness goals. Try one of the new interval-based workouts and add it to your weekly training schedule. Stay strong with Jefit.
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