Blog # 5 June 2022 If you have been suffering from chronic pain for sometime, you have undoubtedly asked yourself two questions many times. Why is it that no matter what I do, the pain persists? And is there any hope for it to ever go away?
The answer to the first question is that if the pain has been going on for several months, it now most likely has three separate but interrelated sources. These are 1) muscles, 2) nerves and the brain and 3) joints They make up a Three Headed Monster of Chronic Pain. The reason that the pain has persisted, is that no matter what corrective action you may have tried to get relief, it probably has addressed only one of these three sources.
The answer to the second question is that something can definitely be done about the muscle and nerve and brain sources of the pain and maybe even the joint source of the pain.
If you can chop off even one head of this Three-Headed Monster of Chronic Pain even while the other two heads may still continue to breathe some of the fire of chronic pain, you can reasonably expect to see some relief in your chronic pain. This may be enough to significantly improve the quality of your life, see some improvements in your sleep, in your ability to move and to be more active, in your ability to sit more comfortably and in your posture.
The best place to start corrective steps is with your affected muscles. With daily effort, it is definitely possible to lengthen shortened muscles, relieve overly tensed muscles and to re-teach muscles to contract under load throughout their range of motion again. The first step is to try to eliminate sites of shortening inside of muscles. These sites have been called contraction spots, sore spots, knots or trigger points. Previous generations of scientists like Travell and Simmons have achieved dramatic reductions in patients’ chronic pain by eliminating these spots by either injecting them with local anesthetics or by applying coolant sprays to them, so there is reason to be hopeful. If some of them can be eliminated, then it will be possible to lengthen any shortened muscles using static stretches. Details about how to find, confront and eliminate contraction spots at home and lengthen shortened muscles with static stretches are presented in the Book. I highly recommend that you consult the Book https://store.bookbaby.com/book/A-Way-Out-Of-Chronic-Pain and attempt the approaches to confront and eliminate your contractions spots.
If your chronic pain has been going on for some time, it means that your nerve cells that carry information back and forth between your affected muscles and the spinal cord and brain as well as your nerve cells in the pain pathways inside your brain have been altered from their normal pain-free state to a hypersensitive, painful state. These alterations comprise the second head of the Three Headed Monster of Chronic Pain and are responsible for its persistent, ongoing quality. These changes are a big part of the reason that so many times, no matter what you do to address the pain at the site of the affected body part, the pain usually persists. Addressing this Second Head of the Monster of Chronic Pain is challenging because it requires multiple repetitions over an extended period of time. However, there is definitely hope for progress. Since these neuroplastic changes occurred in response to the destructive chronic pain inputs coming from the muscles in the affected body part, if they can be changed or eliminated, there is good reason to expect that the patterns of nerve activity in the altered pain pathways inside the spinal cord and brain can once again be changed back to their normal, pain-free state.
The best approach we have today to make these neuroplastic changes is by reducing or eliminating the ongoing neural inputs coming from the contraction spots inside the affected muscles. We know that these inputs can be changed because when scientists injected painful contraction spots with local anesthetics, they were able to shut them down with the patients often reporting dramatic improvements in their pain.
Most people over the age of fifty will show some osteoarthritic changes in their joints on x ray or MRI images. Yet many experience no pain. However, if these changes proceed far enough, the joints can certainly become sources of pain independent of any pain coming from the adjoining muscles and nerves. This is especially true if the joint cartilages and discs have been damaged to the point where adjacent bones are rubbing against each other and being abraded.
This is the third head of the Three Headed Monster of Chronic Pain. If the damage has progressed to this point, it may not be possible to completely eliminate this source of pain without a surgical intervention. However, short of this point, lengthening any shortened muscles around an affected joint, reducing their tension level and eliminating their contraction spots may be able to relieve the stresses on the affected joint enough to reduce the overall level of pain to the point where it becomes more tolerable and increases the overall quality of life.
So, while it may not always be possible to slay the Three Headed Monster of Chronic Pain, it is still possible to chop off its first head (muscles) and second head (nerves and brain) and sufficiently quiet its third head (joints) to the point of greatly reducing the amount of pain you are experiencing to the point of making significant improvements in the quality of your life. Give it a try!