Our bodies have a more advanced alarm systems in our nerves than technology can even come close too. This Alarm system alerts our brains of tissue damage or harm to our bodies. Over time this Alarm system keep sounding and sounding if we don't turn if off. Then over time it becomes more and more sensitive to the littlest movements we do. This ringing of the alarm causes the neighbors in the area to get really irritated. These neighbors are other muscles, tendons, nerves or ligaments. Over time you notice that other parts of your body start hurting. Because the alarm system or nervous system is hyper-sensitive and is annoying its neighbors.
So as clinicians how do we turn off the alarm system. We all know that there needs to be some intervention. So what is best way to turn off or treat a hyper-sensitive nervous system. There are thousands of correct treatment interventions that will calm down the nervous system and turn off our natural alarms. But what is more important before any treatment, is that the patient understands the sensitivity of their nervous system.
As clinicians we love to be the ones that get athletes and patients better. There is great satisfaction with helped anyone get out of pain. The majority of time our treatments work. But what about that one patient or athlete that struggles and never seems to be out of pain?
It wasn't until a recent seminar that I took with Dr. Adriaan Louw that I learn the importance of patients understanding their pain sensitivity. It has been showed that when a patient is explained about their sensitivity to pain. There is a calming effect in the brain which help decreases the amount of pain they will feel and helps your treatments be more efficient. Its by simple pain education techniques used during treatment that can make the difference for many to function pain free.
The image on the left shows a patient in pain with fMRI before the clinician explained about pain sensitivity and the image on the right shows the same patient in fMRI after the pain sensitivity explanation.
In future articles I will share with you different techniques that I use to help patients understand their pain. It has been very effective for me to take an extra minute more of my patients time to help them prioritize there pain and how it fits in which their injury.
Dr. Chase Gardner
Louw, A., Puentedura, E. J., Diener, I., & Peoples, R. R. (2015). Preoperative therapeutic neuroscience education for lumbar radiculopathy: a single-case fMRI report. Physiotherapy Theory and Practice, 31(7), 496-508. doi:10.3109/09593985.2015.1038374