Have you ever wondered why your acupuncturist or remedial massage therapist wants to see you more than once? Or perhaps you’ve had a treatment and felt better for a day or two, only for the pain to return?
When it comes to addressing pain, it often requires more than one appointment to see significant improvement in your symptoms. Let’s take a look at why pain isn’t a quick fix symptom.
Pain affects the nervous system
While pain seems simple when you experience it, it is an incredibly complex process that involves different systems of the body.
One impact that pain can have is that is can change how your nervous system responds to a stimulus. It can make your nervous system more sensitive, and therefore more prone to perceiving something as painful. Something that was previously fine or perhaps uncomfortable can lead to pain.
It can take time for the nervous system to learn that it’s not in danger anymore. But one theory that explains why physical treatment helps with calming the nervous system - the Gate Control theory.
The idea behind the Gate Control theory is that non-painful sensations such as touch pressure from a massage can block the danger signals sent to the brain. This can then reduce your experience of pain.
Inflammation can take time to settle
Another common factor at play when it comes to pain is inflammation. In acute injuries, inflammation is a healthy response from the immune system. Its goal is to flood the injured area with nutrients and protective factors to speed up healing and prevent infection.
But whether your injury is acute or a flare-up of something chronic, it can take time to settle inflammation. Depending on the extent of the injury, it can take days or even weeks for inflammation to calm down.
There is a close relationship with inflammation and pain. The compounds produced by the body during inflammation can increase your sensitivity to pain. So until the inflammation settles down, your body is primed to feel more pain.
Where you experience the pain may not be the root cause
The relationship between the muscles, nerves and connective tissue is complex. So although you might be convinced that the issue is your shoulder because that is where the pain is located, the actual problem might be elsewhere.
In many cases, the painful area can be due to overcompensation for weak or overextended tissue elsewhere. For example, a sore back can be caused by a weak core, a tight or weak ‘front chain’ (the muscles at the front of the body), or misaligned hips or pelvis.
It’s not always clear what the root cause of your pain is. Sometimes, the problem area is inflamed or hidden by muscle tension. So we may need to relieve these issues before we can address the underlying issue.
Chronic pain cannot be fixed overnight
If your pain has taken months or even years to develop, we cannot reverse the processes in just one hour. Pain has a wide-reaching effect on the systems of the body. Each organ, gland and set of tissues will have their own adaptations that they make due to the pain you experience.
Does that mean that you won’t experience relief in a single appointment? Not necessarily. Many clients that we work with report at least some relief of symptoms. But it is unlikely that your chronic pain will resolve straight away.
That’s why we prefer to take the approach of creating a treatment plan for you. This allows us to assess the specifics of your situation, and give you an estimation of how many appointments you will need for us to reach your goal.
If you’re ready to get to the bottom of your pain, the team at Burnett House can help.
Our acupuncturist Jamie combines acupuncture with other tools such as dry needling and remedial massage to relieve symptoms such as pain and stress naturally.
Our naturopath Trish can look at diet and lifestyle factors that can help to address any underlying inflammation that is contributing to your pain.
To book an appointment with Jamie or Trish at our Bundaberg clinic, call us on (07) 41522372