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Pain Model - South Bay Sports Acupuncture

Pain Model

I am often asked what my favorite issue to treat with acupuncture is, so I decided to write a blog post on it. See, one of the things I love most about my profession is the wide variety of issues I get to help people with, and the even wider variety of people I’m grateful to have the opportunity to help.

I couldn’t choose to just talk about one particular body part or movement pattern but pain as a whole.

I chose to be an acupuncturist after my own sports injury was resolved by seeing an acupuncturist while I was in college. I was thrilled my knee and ankle pain cleared and I was able to return to my sport, but what I benefited most from was the education that I received during treatments to take a global look at the systems that govern the body to treat pain, not just reducing the injury down to the parts that are painful.

Pain is an extremely complex issue and a lot to cover in this short article but I am going to touch on a couple of my favorite points I talk about to my patients.

Most importantly, pain is just feedback.

It’s not your enemy, the bane of your existence or anything else you want to call it. Your very intelligent nervous system is making the decision to warn you that the loads on your body are becoming greater than it deems safe to handle.

These loads seem to be as simple as one ‘wrong’ exercise in the gym, picking up something heavy or sleeping in the wrong position but almost always there are others factors such as stress levels, diet, sleep, over training and the quality of your relationships to name a few. These stressors have been taxing your body and leave it with no choice but to give you the ‘feedback’ to make some changes.

This is my favorite ‘ah ha’ moment that my patients have.

When they reframe their pain/injury from this view point and make changes in their lifestyle that will help them for the rest of their life not just their current injury.

The next point is something I repeat often in the treatment room: PAIN DOES NOT ALWAYS EQUAL DAMAGE TO YOUR BODY.

First off, this statement does not include traumatic injuries like car accidents, or falls. What this statement does include is the majority of what I see in practice: a little tweak that never goes away, someone bent over to pick up a sock and now can’t stand upright,  they slept ‘wrong’ and can’t move their neck, or pain while sitting at their desk are some common ones.

The point I try and drive home is they may be in a tremendous amount of pain, but that doesn’t mean they damaged anything. Again, that pain is just feedback that the load(s) you put on your body (sitting too long, too much stress, inflamed, no exercise/movement, lack of sleep) created an environment in the body that decreased it’s ability to handle the stressor at this current time, and its getting your attention to make some changes.

In the treatment room I see lots of painful symptoms and get to perform great techniques such as needling, soft tissue work and rehab exercises to decrease my patients pain, but my favorite part of the treatment is empowering them with the knowledge that they are not broken, and that they get to take an active role in their healing.

This diagram shows all the circumstances in your life that contribute to how you feel in your body.  Pain can be created in the body to let you know one, but mostly more than one factor is contributing to your pain.