Why do I still have pain?

The picture above is from the website : www.medscape.com

Chronic pain in one point of the body, a region of the body, or the whole body has confounded patients and clinicians for many years.  Sometimes a patient will have pain in an area of the body and an X-ray, an MRI, and even blood tests will be negative for any known diagnosis or clear source of pain.

There is hope to get the pain reduced!

The body has nerves that send signals of pain from areas of the body to the brain.  The nerve transmits signals of pain and alarm to the brain. It is a protective mechanism of the body to help reduce damage to the body. The pain receptors are called nociceptors.

The nerves from the body to the brain look like a yellow cable from the wall to your computer. One function of the nerve is to signal pain.  Here is what the nerves look like going from a body part to the brain.

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Inside the nerve there are different fiber types. The C type transmit chemical and heat pain signals. The A delta fibers transmit mechanical pain signals.

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Following prolonged irritating/extreme stimulation, silent pain receptors that previously were unresponsive now become active. It is called sensitization. Chemicals released at the injured site change the composition of pain receptors. The pain receptors begin to transmit pain signals randomly, which causes chronic pain.

In an article in Time magazine several years ago it addressed soldiers on the battlefield that were not treated quickly for pain for battlefield wounds. Their pain often turned into chronic pain.  There is the sensation of pain that is “etched” into the memory of the nerves, spinal cord, and brain.  It is extremely difficult to wipe out that “memory” of pain in the nerves/brain.  But the brain is able to be changed neurologically- it is called neural plasticity.  It is well documented in many studies that the brain can change physiologically with training .

Here are some strategies that can help some people with chronic pain. In theory the memory of the pain in the brain and nerves can change physiologically to have less pain. These exercises may “scrub” out the memory of pain signals and change it to less or no pain.

Several small studies in peer-reviewed journals attest to the effectiveness of these therapies in the LA times.

In one, 30 men and women with chronic low back pain took hatha yoga classes for 12 weeks or were part of a control group that had standard care. Those in the yoga group had substantial decreases in pain compared with the control group, which had almost no change. At the end of the study, published in 2009 in the journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, the yoga group was also using fewer analgesics and opiates for pain, and reported greater overall improvement in quality of life.

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Another study, published this year in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, found tai chi beneficial for 15 patients with rheumatoid arthritis. After practicing tai chi twice a week for 12 weeks, participants reported less pain and stress, plus more body awareness and confidence in moving.

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And a 2003 study in the Journal of Rheumatology found that 43 people with osteoarthritis who completed a 12-week tai chi program had considerably less pain and stiffness in their joints and more abdominal strength and better balance compared with those in a control group that did not do the exercises.

I will be showing some different strategies to help reduce pain- some I have not shared with any person only a few patients.  They worked for me and some of the patients.  They will be coming over the next few days.


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