Pain is Normal, Chronic Pain is Not
By Sandy Edwards, PT, MSPT, Partner at TherapySouth
Surprisingly, pain is absolutely normal. It’s your body’s response to harmful
But living in chronic pain is not normal. And it’s absolutely a reason to seek out professional help. Let’s explain what we mean.
What is Chronic Pain?
When you become injured – such as an injury to the ligaments, muscles, or joints – healing frequently happens within 3 to 6 months. If you’re experiencing chronic pain syndrome, you should generally expect it to resolve within this timeframe. This is especially true if you’re seeking out
But what about when chronic pain persists?
Chronic pain, sometimes called chronic pain syndrome, is defined as pain that lasts longer than 6 months.
There are many common misconceptions and misunderstandings regarding how chronic pain and management of its symptoms
How the Brain is Responsible for Chronic Pain Syndrome
Many people commonly ask, ‘Is chronic pain all in my head?’ The truth is that the brain judges whether or not a situation is threatening or dangerous. And ultimately, the brain decides if you experience pain or not.
For instance, you step off the curb and badly sprain your ankle. You likely expect to feel pain. But what if you step off that curb, sprain your ankle, and look up to see a bus coming toward you?
The same concept applies to the stories about soldiers who suffer an injury during
Pain is a complicated concept. And thus, so is chronic pain.
Navigating the Reasons Behind Your Pain
If you’ve ever experienced a paper cut, you can likely imagine the intricate workings of pain. For such a small cut, it hurts a lot. But you can see that the tissue damage is not the same as the degree of pain you feel. It’s a confusing dilemma.
Ultimately, a normal response to pain, such as in the case of an acute injury, involves the injured area alerting the brain that there is
But in chronic pain cases, the nerves continue to alert the brain of danger. The alarm bells still ring even after the danger has passed. With the nerves on high alert, the area and the nerves become highly sensitive. Activities or stimuli that normally wouldn’t cause pain do.
And there are various factors behind the chronic pain experience. Aspects including fear, stress, culture, overall health, and expectations can also alter or amplify pain. If you’re experiencing increased stress in your life, you’re more susceptible to pain. If you’re in bad health, you may also be more at risk of experiencing chronic pain syndrome.
The good news: there are ways to manage it.
Chronic Pain Management: Understanding is Step One
The more you understand chronic pain syndrome, the better you are able to manage it. This is where a professional can help. If you’re experiencing discomfort, book a physical therapy appointment. A physical therapist can treat the injury, as well as educate you about how chronic pain management works.
Use the BetterPT website or app to book your physical therapy appointment. Find a clinic near you that specializes in exactly what you need. And now, with direct access to physical therapy, you don’t need a referral before seeing a PT.
Chronic pain isn’t normal, and you shouldn’t have to go through life in constant pain. Find new ways to manage your pain. Uncover what’s causing it, then step forward into a better and healthier life.
Sandy Edwards, PT, MSPT is Partner and Clinical Director at TherapySouth. She earned her B.S. from North Carolina State University in 1990 and her M.S. in Physical Therapy from UAB in 1992. Sandy has over 27 years’ experience in acute care rehab, sub-acute rehab, and outpatient settings, and is a Certified Dry Needling Practitioner.