So, what is pain? Pain is an evolutionary warning sign and it is an important part of animal life. There is a small group of people that do not experience any kind of pain at all. Some of you may think that sounds great, especially those of you currently in pain. But, those few people actually have a shorter life expectancy. They don’t possess a warning system of, “Something isn’t right,” like the rest of us do. Pain is essentially your bodies check engine light. It’s letting you know that something, somewhere, isn’t quite right, and that you should pay attention.
Pain is your check engine light
Pain all starts with a noxious signal (a cut, excessive heat, structural shift) that is high enough to create an action potential, or enough of a stimulus that the ‘pain’ button is pressed. These electrical signals travel down A-Delta and C-fibers, which connect to second order neurons in lamina II and III of the dorsal horn in your spinal cord. They then cross at the anterior white commissure, then ascend the spinothalamic tract to the brain, where the pain is interpreted.
Pain is interpreted in your brain
Okay, sorry, I know that was a lot of blah, blah, blah. Essentially, pain is felt in your brain. So, what is pain? It is your subjective evaluation of the incoming signal that determines how badly something hurts you. So, if you can stop the signal from reaching your brain you won’t feel any pain. This is how over-the-counter pain medications, TENS units and highly addictive chronic pain medications work. They try and block or interfere with the signal headed to your brain.
As stated earlier, there is a noxious signal, like a splinter in your finger, which will send a signal to your brain saying, “Hey, wait, something isn’t right!” You can take pain medications which will block the pain, but did you solve the problem? Did taking a pain medication get rid of the splinter? Of course not! It just stopped the signal from reaching your somatosensory cortex in your brain. So the problem is still there.
Another way to think of it, like the very first example that was brought up, the check engine light in your car. Now, when that light comes on you can do one of two things. 1) you can take your car to the mechanic and they’ll tell you what the problem is and hopefully fix it. 2) you can cover up the light on the dashboard so you don’t see it. Which one do you think is the correct way to take care of the problem? Of course it would be to bring the car in and see what’s going on. If you cover up the light you’re just covering up the signal, the warning, and not addressing what caused the signal in the first place. Thats what pain medications do. Leaving these unchecked can cause massive issues in the future.
Pain medications only cover up the signal, never addressing the cause
In other words, your sciatic pain, your lower back pain, shoulder pain, or your neck pain and headaches are all just different check engine lights coming on. These are all secondary conditions. The primary cause of these issues could be a structural shift which is a misalignment of the bones in your spine, a tight rotator cuff muscle, or scar tissue in one of the fascial lines that run all over body. These are all considered a structural shift, and unlike traditional chiropractic care, which only works on boney structures, when we focus on the cause of the issue, you get better faster, and stay better longer.
Your chronic neck and shoulder pain could be because there is an imbalance in the musculature that holds your upper extremity on your body. Taking a chronic pain medication will help with the pain, maybe, but it won’t fix the cause of the problem. Then, you have to deal with all the side effects of the medication, including addiction. Also, since there is an imbalance in the musculature, bones, and extremities of your body, your body will now start to compensate and recruit muscles that should not be activated to do a simple movement. This is going to disrupt the entire kinetic chain from your foot to the top your head, causing even more issues down the road.
At Any Spine Chiropractic our innovative approach and extensive examination will see if a structural shift is present. We will do everything we can to make sure your entire body is balanced and that we are taking care of the primary condition of your pain. We don’t want to cover up your symptoms.
Schedule today to have a pain free tomorrow.