Your Pain is Real

Pain is subjective; we experience it in different ways, at different times, and for different reasons. As a chiropractor, that makes our job difficult sometimes. When a patient comes to see me with a sore neck because they slept funny the night before, I know exactly what to do to help that problem; an adjustment has a high probability of alleviating the pain.
 But when someone comes to see me with back pain that has persisted for many months, back pain that has completely changed their quality of life, back pain that has instilled fear and frustration and despair; to live that experience is an important distinction. 
 Central sensitization is a process that describes how the brain can become sensitized to an area of initial pain and create a heightened response. This pain can persist even once the injury has resolved and there is no lingering tissue damage. The reason for this is because pain is a construct of the brain. 
 To put this into perspective, there is a condition that demonstrates this phenomenon called Phantom Limb Pain. It describes how a person who has had an amputation of a limb can still feel pain associated with that limb long after it has been disconnected from the physical body. The brain has mapped the pain; the brain sees the limb as being present and the pain is as real as ever.
 When a patient comes to me with a long history of pain, my treatment approach is different. It is education. It is teaching the difference between pain that reflects a danger versus pain that is a construct of the mind. It is training my patients how to understand these subtle differences in their own bodies, and invite feel-good pain-free movements back into their routine in an attempt to override the system. It is taking back control of your pain and ultimately taking back control of your life. 
 So, to those of you who are dealing with chronic pain and all of the challenges that come with it – I see you. Your pain is real. I am on your team. It may take some time, but I will do everything I can to help you get back to living.