Commonly muscular pain is talked about when a person considers their pain to be a non serious pain. However muscle pain can be intense, constant, long lasting, and out of proportion with the severity of actual tissue damage.
One component of muscular injury is hypo-perfusion of blood. Anything that can cause a reduction of blood to the muscle can give rise to pain. This could be a magnesium to calcium ratio imbalance, a short term increase in muscle use, normal regeneration of muscle tissue (we break down and build muscle every day), exercise induced break down and build up of muscular tissue (over done it or DOMS), poor posture, or disuse atrophy (yes doing nothing can give rise to a pain experience!).
Mechanisms of Myofascial Pain were further elaborated in a recent paper (1). In which trigger points were talked about. I have worked to understand trigger points for the last 20 years, including seeing a paper written by an Orthopeadic Surgeon in a prominent Journal that trigger points do not exist. If I find a prominent point that triggers pain then I’ll call it a trigger point, controversially, even when no twitch response exists. Trigger points are well established in their pain referral. A quick Google and you’ll see the images of where muscles can refer their pain.
When looking to resolve muscular pain approaches of paracetamol, ibuprofen, codeine, capsaicin amongst others are all products to help you cover up the experience of having pain. A Chiropractor may be able to offer a muscle a way of not only resolving the cause of muscular dysfunction and hypo perfusion but also to aid the rehabilitation of training your muscles to ‘centrate’ around your joints. AKA Muscular Balance. If you believe you have muscular pain and it has lasted more than 3 days then consulting with a Chiropractor may be just what your body ordered. Before you get used to it and your symptoms die away anyway. Leaving you thinking that you’ve gotten over the issue yet future re-occurrences will inform you that you did not.
The question to ask yourself is when my muscle pain symptoms ‘settle down’ have I gotten used to it or have I healed it? The phenomenon is called ‘accommodation’ in Neurology. Accommodation is what happens when you are in a bad smell- you get used to it, and it is, as if the bad smell had gone away…
(1) Saleet-Jafri, M (2014). Mechanisms of Myofascial Pain, A Review Article. doi: 10.1155/2014/523924
At first learning about the human body can be confusing at best, for the human body is a complex thing to attempt to understand.
In 2007 prominent physiotherapists published a paper on regional interdependence. This is a type of pain that occurs at a distant site to the root cause of pain (nociceptive). E.G that the thoracic spine can be the cause of neck pain, and a not so obvious one that the foot can stop head rotation short. Essentially almost any part of the body can affect any other part as we are well interconnected (hopefully!). The body in fact is bidirectional within itself (Tech bit: in a lower motor neurone way). The knee could cause the painful low back experience of an individual but does not give any pain at the knee. Regional Interdependent pain is different to referred pain as referred pain had been mapped and is known. In a case of interdependent pain the body worker assessing you would have to understand the link in order to help you with your problem. If the site of pain is treated then the problem can be made worse in the case of interdependent pain. Body workers such as chiropractors have ways of identifying areas to treat that are not pain based. Which is why some people have regular care; gaining benefit without the pain involved in a flare up.
Chiropractors are educated intellectually and trained in manual procedures differently to specialist manual physiotherapists, hence why in the case of a person with regional interdependent pain, we find that tacitly the concept is already part of chiropractic care plans to help musculoskeletal pain experiences. In other words: My pain does not always signify the body part that requires treatment. There will be an order of care in your chiropractic care plan that involves you finishing the course of treatment. Chiropractic is more than a quick click.
We know the hypothalamus (a part of the human brain) is highly plastic (changeable), in fact some say the most plastic part of the brain. The hypothalamus stimulates or inhibits hormones. Hormones secreted by the hypothalamus are able to alter the job of certain cells. Thus a chain of possible change within any and every human is present. When we stimulate the hypothalamus to produce particular hormones we learn automatically a default to produce them. One could say we get more used to being us.
We are actually rewarded in the brain with opiates when our regular ‘molecules of emotion’ are released. When we try another way (state of mind) we do not get a reward, why effort is required to change, why a feeling of being wrong comes with any change we try. Those that are guided by that inner feeling are shied away from change because it doesn’t ‘feel right’. Those who are in their head have a flurry of mixed thoughts, tangential ideas and not knowing for sure that their current action is the ‘correct one’. Those that are guided by how their body is; tend to get a difference in their body such as they do not feel good in their body, they are sluggish or they have transitory pains that aren’t usually there, for example.
For me the way the media reports upon ‘mind over matter’ can lead one falsely down a path of whenever I need I can control anything that comes. Like being a superhero. In the real world we cannot control everything. Monks who live on mountain tops in isolation for 30 years do not get to reach enlightenment. Really any mind over matter situation needs to be delineated from ‘pushing through it’ and to have a time frame added. For most people they do not have a spare 30 years to try it out to see for themselves!
Essentially we are human beings with many different ways to be (states of mind). We will find it easier to be different or to change whilst our nervous system is still growing (spinal columns complete in 4th decade of life). After this time the amount of effort required for change becomes increased as more energy is required to make a change e.g. rewire our brain. With every change thus comes the wobbly part big or small, short or long.
The icing on the cake of difficulty with change after 40 is the future psychology of human beings. Doing things in the future is easier than actually doing them. The future psychology of taking out credit is a great example of how we consider it less of a risk because I can pay it (do it) later. Whilst we need time to be human beings with meditation we also need time to be human doings with exercise. Both exercise and meditation have been shown to have an epi-genetic effect toward health. Next time you are considering making a change do not underestimate the amount of effort required, time required and energy required whilst also not forgetting to include the amount of euphoria and reward you will receive when you ‘make it there’.
For example a study was able to demonstrate that actual physical muscle growth was achieved over a 6 week period of imagining a gym programme; yes our minds can affect physical body tissues and no it is not an easy thing to add to your already busy life. Hence why no man is an island and we need help from others e.g. a chiropractor to help my body move better helping my body tissues last longer as a complimentary lifestyle choice to regular exercise and a healthy diet. Sometimes however issues of trust and of giving over control can get in the way of you getting off your own inner island and making a powerful healthful connection with another human being (in my opinion).