It is very likely that someone you know deals with the challenge of enduring chronic pain. You may even be reading this and be somewhat familiar with the everyday problems it brings. Certain tasks that may appear minuscule like taking a shower, buying groceries, or driving a car can feel incredibly daunting for people who always struggle to suppress their pain. Fortunately, being a victim to chronic pain is not permanent by any means. There are a number of ways that you can improve your quality of life without needing to invalidate your hardships or unique perspective.
Before tackling the problem at hand, it is important to understand that we experience pain differently at different times of our lives. Why is the achiness by my lower back progressively getting worse while my shoulder pain of the same intensity just comes and goes? Also, how come my migraines, once mere headaches, appear less often to once a month but only during half the year and then become unbearable again? The perceptions of our pain evolve similarly to the way plants grow out in nature. The surrounding environment can strongly influence our resiliency similar to how a gradual shortage of sunlight may considerably weaken an ali’i plant. When time passes, our brains take shortcuts to be efficient. Ironically, it can inaccurately recall what has given us pain or discomfort in the first place! This also means that new events can trigger us much more than we may have expected. The sound of your cousin’s dog barking over the last week may be enough to tip your low back pain over the edge. Our mental pain is very related to our physical pain and they sometimes easily blend into one.
Let me tell you that we are not controlled by what our brain tells us. Even though this incredibly hard-working organ is vital to our survival, the brain can reset to help us feel better instead of chaining us to pain. This is the essence and the beauty of neuroplasticity! Within the world of physical therapy lots of approaches can address the conundrum of chronic pain. For instance, practicing sensory integration gives the brain a chance to recognize a pattern of incorrect recollection and then correct it. There are many forms of this method including the recognition of sharp and dull, one or two points, temperature, using a nine-point grid as well as graphesthesia. Over time, our bodies can accustom to both familiar and unfamiliar sensations in order to tolerate whatever funky obstacle crosses our path.
Pain that lingers for a while can present itself to us in so many puzzling ways which is why it is gratifying to finally face it head-on with hopefulness. We at Ke Ola Kino, LLC will help you make sense of your individual journey and guide you at every step. You definitely do not need to deal with chronic pain alone. Come by to the clinic to schedule an appointment with us. Be proactive about your well being to ensure you, and not your pain, is in control of your happiness.
- Apkarian, A. V., Baliki, M. N., & Geha, P. Y. (2009). Towards a theory of chronic pain. Progress in neurobiology, 87(2), 81-97.
- May, A. (2008). Chronic pain may change the structure of the brain. PAIN®, 137(1), 7-15.
- Von Korff, M., & Dunn, K. M. (2008). Chronic pain reconsidered. Pain, 138(2), 267-276.
Laura Grodzka, SPT
Student Physical Therapist
Hawai’i Pacific University
Editied by Dr. Malia Tallett P.T., D.P.T., T.P.S.