Life Can Be Painful

5o Shades of Pain

Jul 30, 2012
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50 Shades of Pain

Pain is pain, right? Wrong!  Pain can come in a variety of situations, can feel very different and can be slight or severe.  One person’s experience of pain is often very different from another’s.  There are many factors that affect how a person experiences and reacts to pain ranging from their previous experiences of pain to their psychological state at the time they are suffering.

Different structures in the body cause different types of pain.  For example, pain of a muscular origin will behave in a fairly predictable way.  We are all familiar with muscular pain after a long walk or a hard session at the gym and we know that the pain and stiffness is often worse the second day but that it is then likely to ease quickly after that.

Most people will be able to differentiate stomach ache from back pain and neck pain from a headache but there are some types of pain that are hard to tie down.  People often struggle to put their finger on exactly where the pain is in certain shoulder problems.  They know it hurts but can’t quite work out exactly where.

We have all bashed our funny bone at one time or another (which is actually our ulnar nerve, not a bone) and have therefore experienced radiating pain.  Once the nerve is irritated we experience pain, tingling and some numbness in the little and ring fingers despite the fact that nothing has happened to those fingers.  This is because the nerve impulses are interrupted at the elbow and the signals that arrive in the brain are interpreted as pain and altered sensation.

We can also experience referred pain from organs that are suffering in a completely different place to where the organ is.  People who have heart attacks experience pain in their left arm and their throat neither of which overlie the structure of the heart.  The gallbladder, which sits just underneath the liver, can refer pain to the tip of the right shoulder and problems with the function of the lower back and pelvis can be mistaken for knee pain or groin pain.

Often symptoms we see in the clinic are made up of several different aspects and types of pain.  For example, many people we see complaining of lower back pain find they have quite a sharp pain in a very specific area of their back but also have a constant ache in a larger, more diffuse area and stiffness when they try to move.  This may well be because the affected joint in the back is inflamed and therefore causes acute pain when the joint moves whilst the muscles surrounding the area are very tight from trying to protect the joint and cause the aching pain and stiffness.

By finding out which pain is which we can create a much better understanding of the problem and in doing so provide much better and accurately targeted treatment to get rid of the pain.  Once the pain is gone you are free to do … whatever you want with your body!

The Seven Ages of Back Pain

May 30, 2012
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The Seven Ages of Back Pain

The lower back works hard when we lift and we all know that we should be lifting correctly but sometimes it’s just not that easy especially when children are concerned!

1. During pregnancyAs the baby grows your centre of gravity begins to shift and the core muscles get stretched making it more difficult for them to support the lower back during the lifting process.  Extra laxity in the ligaments also means that the lower back and pelvis is in danger of having an acute episode.  Common areas of pain are to one side of the spine or at the top of the buttock.2. With a newbornWhen the baby is small you would imagine that lifting is easy but there is a lot of paraphernalia that goes with a newborn.  The pram, the changing bag, the car seat, not to mention bending to the cot or Moses basket to pick up a distressed child.  Then there is the carrying – all parents will know the subconscious and mildly disturbing rocking that occurs (even when you are not holding the baby).  Holding even a very light infant for prolonged periods of time is very hard work for the muscles of the arms, shoulders, neck and back especially if you are not accustomed to doing so.

3. Pre-toddlers The baby is getting his or her personality and becoming heavier as they are eating more solid food and building their own muscles by learning to crawl and stand.  The lifting required has also changed.  Heavier lifting and often from the floor (or under the table!) means that it may not be possible to get in the correct position to lift making it more likely that your back will suffer.

4. ToddlersEven heavier and now a new challenge … walking and running.  This means you have to keep an eye on them at all times and often have to grab them before they run off in the street or bolt for the hot cup of coffee.  Now your body ends up contorting itself wildly to halt a weighty, fast moving child – recipe for disaster in back terms.

5. Pre-schoolHopefully the children will now be a little more obedient and are not so prone to running off and due to their walking ability and weight lifting becomes heavier but more infrequent and of shorter duration.  Up onto the kitchen counter to put a plaster on a skinned knee and up over country gates when required.  Cuddles are done sitting down though hauling a child up onto your lap from the ground can put an enormous strain on the sacro-iliac joints in the pelvis.

6. School YearsLifting of children is seldom required now but there are bikes to get in and out of the boot of the car and play fights to have on the living room floor.  The child is too heavy to lift now apart from the odd piggy back when its really muddy or way past bed time.  There is also more time now to get back into the sports and activities you used to do but remember you have not done them for quite a long time and adjust the intensity and duration of the exercise accordingly.

7. GrandparentsFar from being immune from the pain children can cause to a back the grandparents can be in even more danger if they are not around all the time.  Children grow quickly and if you don’t lift them regularly your back will not be ‘match fit’ and the shock to the back and neck can be significant when an excited child launches themselves at you upon arrival at your house.

Fortunately, at Back to Health we understand the pain being a parent can cause. And we can help you get back to being pain free – as you like it!

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