All About Pain

Pain is the most common reason someone will seek out massage therapy, and is something RMTs must consider when formulating a treatment plan. So, some information on pain…

“The unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage”. Always subjective, we have learned the meaning of the word through experiences related to injury early in our lives. However, many people report pain with out any tissue damage having taken place. Sensory neurons (nociceptors), convey the pains the pain location, intensity and nature. Pain, is the body message something is wrong.

Acute pain, when experienced, we know exactly where it hurts, often due to tissue damage. Can be from head aches, injury or cramps and usually goes away as it heals, or the cause of the pain is removed.

Chronic pain is one that persists after and injury heals, a pain related to persistent or degenerative disease, or is long term from an unidentifiable cause. One in 3 people will experience this type of pain in their lifetime. This pain is no longer viewed as a symptom, but its own illness. Occasionally brought on by an accident, infection or a surgery that damages a nerve, which once damaged, the nerve continues to send unnecessary pain messages to the brain. Chronic pain may also be caused by the body’s response to acute pain.

Prolonged pain is a type that interferes with life. It becomes hard to work, socialize and exercise. Drugs for relief can cause even more serious problems. Injury is a major cause of this type of pain. It may also come from an illness or may accompany  a psychological condition. Please note it can even occur in absence of a recognizable trigger.

Modern medicine does not have a complete cure for recurring myoskeletal pain and treatment with drugs offers temporary relief. Research shows nerve compression and spinal disc herniation do not necessarily cause pain, and bones are not major pain generators.

So where does pain come from then? The human body is designed for motion. When aging joints and connective tissue begin to wear and tear pain appears. Since aging can not be stopped most pain can be alleviated with restoration of proper myoskeletal balance and alignment so we move more effectively.

With appropriate treatments and home care, results can steadily improve. Time is required for muscles and joints to heal. There can be a cycle of repeated improvement and reversal due to fluctuations in psychological and physical stressors. With proper treatment, each cycle usually had greater improvement with less frequent and less severe reversals. Treatment results are always faster and better in those who maintain the feeling that they WILL improve.

Pain has to be appreciated for what it is a body function that allows us to avoid dangerous situations, prevent further tissue damage and promotes the healing process.

Suzanne Shynkaruk, RMT


Advanced Myoskeletal Techniques, Erik Dalton, Ph.D. Freedom From Pain Institute, Second Edition 2010