Understand Your Pain

Understanding Your Pain:

The Power of Pain Neuroscience Education 

 -By CPR Physical Therapy + Performance Partner: Cade Searle, DPT

Today, let's dive into a fascinating topic that can totally change how you see and handle your pain: Pain Neuroscience Education (PNE). No matter what's causing your pain, understanding PNE basics can be a total game-changer on your journey to feeling better. 

Pain Neuroscience Education might sound fancy, but it's really just about teaching people the science behind pain. Think of it as getting an exclusive backstage pass to your body's pain theater, where knowing how things work on the inside gives you the power to deal with discomfort. Let's see how PNE can shine a light on three common conditions - arthritis, back pain, and fibromyalgia - and help loosen their grip on your life. 

Person Demonstrating painArthritis is pretty common as we get older, making our joints feel like rusty hinges that creak and ache. Picture your joints as the hinges of a door: over time they might stiffen up, swell, and hurt. With PNE, we learn something cool: our body's alarm system can sometimes get too sensitive, setting off pain signals even when there's no real danger. By teaming up with physical therapy to calm these overactive nerves, we can understand that pain doesn't always mean something's wrong, helping us take control of our bodies and minds. 

Back pain is another unwelcome but common pain, often showing up after long periods of sitting or slouching. Imagine your back as a sturdy pillar holding you up: but when things like bad posture or muscle strains happen, discomfort and stiffness can sneak in. PNE teaches us an important lesson: just because you feel pain doesn't mean something's broken. Our backs are like a big communication network between nerves, spinal cord, and brain, where emotions like stress and fear can turn up the pain dial. Knowing this, we can solve the mystery of back pain with physical therapy, posture, and relaxation techniques. 

Fibromyalgia is like having a super-sensitive pain alarm system, where even the lightest touch can set off a storm of discomfort. PNE comes to the rescue for those facing fibromyalgia, showing how nerves, stress, and pain are all tangled up. Understanding that fibromyalgia doesn't mean your body's broken, but that your nerves are extra sensitive, opens doors to treatments like gentle exercise and stress relief techniques. 

Now, let's see how Pain Neuroscience Education can be your buddy in the fight against pain: 

  1. Feeling Empowered: Knowing how pain works puts you in charge of your healing journey. Instead of feeling powerless, you become the boss, steering towards a brighter, pain-free future. 
  2. Breaking the Stigma: Sometimes, we think pain means something's really wrong with us. PNE helps us see that it's not just about our bodies but also about our minds and feelings. This way, we can get rid of the shame around pain and find treatments that help all parts of us. 
  3. Taking Control: With PNE, you learn how your thoughts, feelings, and actions can change how much pain you feel. This helps you make smarter choices and take charge of your own pain relief plan. 

In a nutshell, adding Pain Neuroscience Education to your pain-fighting toolkit can totally change the game. No matter what kind of pain you're dealing with, PNE, combined with physical therapy, can help you take back control of your life. Just remember, you're not alone – at CPR we're here to give you the support and tools you need to kick pain to the curb and enjoy life to the fullest! 

Now, let's take a deeper dive into Pain Neuroscience Education and why it matters: 

Pain is like a puzzle with many pieces, and PNE helps us put them together. It's not just about feeling hurt – it's about how our nerves, brains, and emotions all work together. Imagine your nerves as messengers that send signals to your brain when something hurts. Sometimes, these messengers can get a bit too sensitive, like a fire alarm going off when there's no fire. PNE teaches us that just because we feel pain doesn't mean there's something seriously wrong. Instead, it's often our body's way of telling us to pay attention and take care of ourselves. 

Using Education as Therapy: In the past, when people had pain, the focus was often on just making it go away with pills or surgery. But PNE takes a different approach. Instead of just treating the symptoms, it treats the education about pain itself as a form of therapy. By learning more about how pain works, we can learn how to manage it better and even reduce it over time. It's like learning the rules of a game – once you know them, you can start playing to win! 

Changing Beliefs and Expectations: What we believe about pain can have a big impact on how much it bothers us. If we think that pain means something's really wrong, we might feel scared or anxious, which can make the pain feel even worse. But with PNE, we learn that pain doesn't always mean there's something broken. Instead, it's often just our body's way of protecting us. By changing our beliefs and expectations about pain, we can change how much it bothers us and how much it interferes with our lives. 

Personalizing Treatment: Everyone's experience of pain is different, so it makes sense that the way we treat pain should be different too. That's where PNE comes in. Instead of using a one-size-fits-all approach, PNE helps us tailor our treatment plans to fit our individual needs and preferences. Maybe you prefer gentle exercises over strong pain medications, or maybe you find that relaxation techniques help you more than anything else. With PNE, you get to be the boss of your own pain management plan. 

Integrating PNE into Clinical Practice: While PNE is gaining popularity among healthcare providers, there's still work to be done to make it more widely available. That means training more doctors, nurses, and therapists in PNE principles and making sure that everyone has access to accurate, up-to-date information about pain. By making PNE more accessible, we can help more people take control of their pain and live happier, healthier lives. 

In conclusion, Pain Neuroscience Education is a powerful tool for managing pain and improving quality of life. By understanding the science behind pain, changing our beliefs and expectations, and personalizing our treatment plans, we can take control of our pain and get back to doing the things we love. Whether you're dealing with arthritis, back pain, fibromyalgia, or any other condition, PNE can help you on your journey to feeling better. So don't wait – contact us at CPR and start learning about pain today to take the first step towards a pain-free tomorrow! 

References: 

  1. Moseley, G. Lorimer, and David S. Butler. “Explain pain”. (2003). 
  2. Louw, Adriaan et al. “Pain Neuroscience Education: Teaching People About Pain”. Physiotherapy Theory and Practice vol. 32, 5 (2016): 385-95. Doi: 10.1080/09593985.2016.1194646 
  3. Nijs, Jo et al. “Pain Neuroscience Education: State of the Art and Application in Pediatrics”. Children vol. 7, 6 46. 29 May. 2020. Doi: 10.3390/children7060046