What is pain and why do we have it?

J .K. Rowling wrote in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, “Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it”. Without going into the metaphorical explanation of the saying, the literal meaning of these words is very important and relevant.

Pain in any part of human body is not a disease in itself but it’s an indicator that something is wrong in the body. We can understand it from a common everyday example. If you are driving your car and check engine lights comes on. What would you do? Will you ignore the light and keep driving or you will cover the light with a tape or unplug the wires or you will take your car to an auto-mechanic as soon as possible. You will agree with the last option because you want the problem being signaled by the check engine light to be sorted out and handled. Similarly, if you are feeling a pain in your back or neck, why would you want to mask the pain with pain killers or just ignore it hoping that it would go away on its own?

It is important to remember that pain is the check engine light for your body. It is signaling that something is wrong with your system that needs to be investigated and treated accordingly . Pain does not tell you what is wrong and the location of the pain also does not necessarily mean that it the site of the actual problem. This is called “Referred pain” and most well-known example is pain from the heart attack (Angina), which is usually felt in the left arm or between the shoulders or your jaw. If you or somebody you know has gone through the pain of angina or cardiac ischemia would also remember that the emergency treatment given usually consists of medications for blood thinning, dilating the arteries and to dissolve the clot. So, we can appreciate that it is important not to treat the pain only but treating the cause is more important. From the same example of cardiac pain, we can realize another important aspect of pain; it’s actually a protective mechanism for us. Let me elaborate this; some individuals such as diabetics do not feel pain despite having narrowing of the heart arteries, this result in diagnosis at a much later stage when the heart is already greatly damaged. Therefore, presence of pain should be taken as a “blessing in disguise” and should raise an alarm in you that your body is malfunctioning and needs care.

People may not delay the car checkup after the blinking of the check engine light, but there are many who are not very responsive to the indications from their body. Especially people involved in a car accident or doing strenuous training often dismiss their pain as the usual accompaniment of the jolt experienced in the accident. The delay in seeking professional help not only results in health complications but also may result in loss of the insurance coverage.

There are variations in what people perceive as the pain “good enough” to warrant professional help. People continue to ignore their pains especially the muscular problems such as neck or lower back pains or rely on self- management with pain killers. This leads to continuous damage to your body organs and systems and eventually you will be spending more time and money on treatment or unfortunately you may have irreversible ill effects that are not treatable.

Chiropractic approaches are different from other medical interventions because the fundamental principle in chiropractic management is the treatment of the cause of the pain and not only its symptoms. For instance, if your back is out of whack; popping a painkiller is the first option that comes to your mind but it will only treat the symptoms – on the other hand seeking a chiropractor consultation might tell you what is causing the pain such as a short hamstrings or irritation of the spinal nerves due to vertebral subluxation and thus correct the cause of the pain through spinal manipulation techniques or other needed treatment methods . The perception of pain is directly related to nerves and the nervous system and chiropractic specifically relates to the nervous system of the body. Since nerves run through the spine and spread throughout the body, chiropractors consider that spine health is crucial for overall health.

As mentioned earlier, chiropractors use various different types of techniques to treat patients suffering pain. However, two attributes are common in these methods, first none of them are even near as invasive as surgery. Secondly, they are devoid of side effects related with pain medications and there are very few, if any, reported side effects with chiropractic adjustments. These benefits are the major factors attracting more and more people towards chiropractic care for their health problems causing pain.