The Power of Words by: Brittany Webster

Pain: we’ve all had it, and have probably been told by a medical professional a reason for it. Reasons such as: a disc, a tight or weak muscle, alignment, or instability to name a few. What many people do not realize, is that pain, especially chronic pain, is much more complex than a single reason. In fact, the cause of most pain is multifactorial, meaning environment, thoughts, fears, previous injury, medical history, or any other aspect of life can contribute to pain.

Because of this it is crucial for healthcare providers to remember the power of their words. Words such as weak, unstable, damaged, broken, or torn can be harmful to both the person experiencing the pain as well as the recovery process. Allowing people to believe they can only move a certain way, or can’t do something because of their pain, adds a level of fear that may not have existed before.

Our bodies are amazing and extremely adaptable. They were also made to move in a wide variety of ways. When pain is a factor, movement can seem scary, or maybe someone told you certain movements were off limits, and there is a fear of making pain worse. Often times, movement makes us feel better, even though it might feel like the last thing you want to do when something hurts. To begin, try sticking to moving in pain free ranges, and gradually progress.

Certain movements or activities might be something you will need to build up to, and prepare your body for, but this does not mean that they are completely off limits. Your body might not be prepared quite yet, but it will be! It is the body’s job to adapt to stresses, which is how we build muscle strength and endurance. Dealing with pain and recovering follows the same process; we have to gradually add more activity and movement as the body strengthens and adapts. Movement should never be scary, and we should never feel like we are in “movement jail.”

There may be activities that you will need to work up to, or tissue that needs to become less sensitive, but the most important thing to remember is that you are not broken, damaged, or unfixable. Your body is resilient and adaptable, and with the right encouragement and guidance, you will be able to conquer anything.

Brittany is in her final rotation as a doctoral student from Franklin Pierce University. She is excited about entering her career, able to help people heal and live life more fully. She enjoys traveling, hiking and yoga to stay healthy.

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