Often called ‘the fifth vital sign,’ pain is as important as temperature, pulse, respiration, and blood pressure as a meaningful indicator of a patient’s medical position. The longer we live, the more likely it is that we will ultimately experience some kind of injury or disease that results in permanent or already chronic pain. Surgeries become more frequent, both elective and those deemed vital to our survival and well-being. Injury and surgery leads to scar tissue that may cause lingering pain, mar our outer turn up, and diminish certain movement capabilities. Many of us also take a variety of pharmaceuticals and/or as a hobby drugs to delay some disease course of action or to alleviate symptoms of chronic physical or emotional pain. These drugs, already properly prescribed prescription drugs, may sometimes strengthen the problems and already create new unexpected painful side effects.
Sometimes, continuing to take pain medication truly perpetuates the pain when the medication is stopped or increased doses may be required to continue the same effect. With body therapy, however, over a period of time, fewer and fewer treatments may be required because the body cells remember the sensations of neuromuscular letting go and before over stimulated nerve receptor cells begin to quiet down.
Causes of Pain
A popular belief, already among medical professionals, is that the most shared cause for pain is a pinched nerve. According to this belief, there are three types of pain:
*Nocioception – immediate, protective pain
*Inflammatory – local cellular damage
*Neuropathic – one or more nerves are affected, delayed in onset, becomes chronic pain, requires physical input to heal the injury…and is radiculopathic (nerve root impingement causing weakness, numbness, and difficulty controlling certain muscles)
Chronic pain is believed to be caused by shortened (contracted) muscles resulting from neuropathy and radiculopathy. This theory is based upon Cannon’s 1949 Law of Dennervation Supersensitivity which states: “Any measure (such as a nerve impingement caused by radiculopathy) which blocks the flow of motor impulses and deprives an organ or tissue of excitatory input (motor impulses) for a period of time, will cause abnormal functioning (called ‘disuse sensitivity’) in the receptor organ or tissue.
Recent research, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI’s), has demonstrated that no matter how much a normal functioning spine is compressed or twisted, there is abundant room in the space between the vertebrae for free movement of the nerve. Researchers are now suggesting that much of the pain may be caused by sensory receptor overload from postural imbalances. by a course of action called “sensitization,” a pattern may be set up in the body in which hyperexcited receptors feeding the central nervous system cause the brain to send signals to twist and torque the body to avoid pain.
The pain generating stimulus must be interrupted until the memory in the nerve cells has been forgotten. For many chronic pain situations, thorough tissue therapy a few times every week can help these hyperexcited receptors feeding the central nervous system to quiet down and the sensation of pain to dissipate and already disappear.
Deconditioning Complications of Chronic Pain
Any part of the body that has harsh and chronic pain will discontinue normal, symmetric, coordinated movement, and the person with pain will simply self-splint, immobilize, and decondition the area. Muscles, nerves and joints weaken and deteriorate leading to muscle atrophy, neuropathy, contracture, decreased movement, and gradual weight gain. To compensate for a ineffective, painful area, joints, nerves and muscles in other parts of the body will work overtime, leading to “overload and overuse syndrome.
Hormonal Complications of Chronic Pain
Chronic pain is a potent stressor that may affect every endocrine system in the body. Initially, the pain causes an excess of stress hormones (catecholamines and glucocorticoids) to help the body control pain and prevent damage. However, this excess may cause hypertension and tachycardia, sometimes leading to cardiovascular death.
If harsh pain continues and is not controlled, adrenal exhaustion and decreased stress hormone levels may consequence. The fluctuation between excess and deficient glucocorticoids, often called Cushing and Addison syndromes respectively, can rule to many harsh symptoms, including: mental deficiencies, muscle weakness, edema, osteoporosis, diabetes, forming stones, tooth decay, and already testosterone deficiency. A further effect of pain and lowered levels of important hormones is a compromised immune system, lowered resistance to infections and slower healing of wounds when injured.
Neuropathic Complications of Chronic Pain
Persistent pain causes excess electrical activity in peripheral nerves, spinal cord and brain. This ‘hot wire’ effect appears to cause nerve tissue damage in the spine in addition as the brain, which can rule to dementail and other organic brain problems.
Cardiovascular Effects of Chronic Pain
Pain increases blood pressure. This is not such a problem for a person with a typically low to average blood pressure. But for a person experiencing from hypertension and high blood pressure, the increased blood pressure resulting from the body’s pain response can rule to a more serious heart problem such as a stroke or aneurysm.
Pain, especially as we age, should not be taken lightly. There are all sorts of medications obtainable to decline the level of pain. And when needed, pain medication can literally save lives. But for chronic pain, there are so many diet, exercise and body therapy prescriptions that can not only be life saving but can transform the quality of a person’s life.