The primary goal of your brain is movement. Your brain uses your eyes, your ears and the feedback from your muscles and joints to create a 3D map of your body and your environment. All movement is based on these sensory maps. If you’re suffering from pain, dizziness, balance or co-ordination problems then the likelihood is that your brain is having trouble creating these sensory maps and healthy movement patterns. This may present as a stiffness, a muscle sprain, nerve compression etc…
Most of us will decide to only use pain killers, perhaps get a massage, or even see a health care professional like a chiropractor or physiotherapist. Research shows that if you experience back pain once the risk of recurrence within one year is as great as 78% (reference 1). All that time, money and effort that you spent trying to get better is lost and you repeat the cycle. The reason for this is pain. Movement is divided into stability and mobility. Your brain is trying to create a fine balance between the two. Too much stability and we become stiff, too much mobility and we damage our joints and muscles.
Pain causes a change in posture, a change in muscle activation and an increased sensitivity to pain itself. Therefore our movement is compromised, we are unable to correctly balance stability and mobility. We are less able to protect our muscles and joints when performing tasks that in the past required no effort. Just because the pain may have faded our brain doesn’t necessarily start to create healthy movement again.
The next part to this story lies in the psychology of pain. Many of us have been told that due to “degenerative changes” we will always experience pain or that our condition will not change. We change our lifestyle to avoid things that might “cause further damage”. Well I have some excellent news for you. Degenerative changes are very normal. ‘37% of 20-year-old individuals to 96% of 80-year-old individuals have degenerative changes in the low back. Disk bulge prevalence increased from 30% of those 20 years of age to 84% of those 80 years of age. Disk protrusion prevalence increased from 29% of those 20 years of age to 43% of those 80 years of age.’ (reference 2).
So what does this mean? It means that the only difference between you and someone else is that you’re in pain. Pain itself doesn’t mean necessarily indicate injury, it means a peripheral nerve is being irritated or compressed and that you brain is interpreting the signal as painful. We need to address anxiety and stress associated with pain in order to help reduce pain.
This is where most treatment falls short. It concentrates only on relieving pain but pays no attention to why it occurred, why it might occur again and the impact that it had on you.
My goal is to evaluate how you’re processing sensory information and how you’re creating movement. Once we have identified what is causing your problem, we want to know why it’s causing a problem. We can then reduce your symptoms by treating the affected tissue e.g. muscle or nerve, and then start active rehab exercises to train your brain to better understand where your body is and how to move it. We combine this with relaxation exercises and cognitive exercises to help control the psychological affects of pain.
You don’t need to rely on medication or someone else to keep you healthy. You have all you need. My goal is to provide you with the tools to realise that.
If you think this approach might be helpful to a friend or relative feel free to send them my details. I’m now offering free screening which is a great chance for them to discuss their condition before deciding whether to book an initial consultation. I work as a chiropractor in Woking.
Ref 1: Marras A et al, Low back pain recurrence in occupational environments, Spine, 2007. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17906584
Ref 2: W. Brinjikji, Sstematic Literature Review of Imaging Features of Spinal Degeneration in Asymptomatic Populations. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4464797/