Pain relief is one of the most common reasons people come through my door. From head to toe, or rather from headaches to plantar fasciitis people are very adept at telling me where it hurts and why they think it hurts. But where it hurts is often a result of lack of mobility or issues in another part of the body. For example, people arrive complaining of pain in between their shoulders, which slowly increases through the day as they work at the computer (sound familiar?). As a therapist, it’s always important to take this subjective information into account and to delve a little bit deeper; is the pain on one side more than the other? Does it go up into the neck or down into the low back? What are the characteristics of the pain? The answers to questions such as these begin to paint a full picture of how the client is experiencing their pain.
But it’s just as important to look at the objective information by using assessment tests. These tests help to identify what may actually be occurring in the area in a more unbiased way. To return to our example above, a quick look at Pectoralis Major and Minor muscle lengths may begin to show that the front of the chest is tight, which is causing the muscles between the shoulder blades to fatigue and send pain signals as they lose a tug-of-war with the front of the chest for where the shoulder blade is sits on the back. If this is true, then that client can get their upper back worked on again and again (the area of pain), but the root cause of the pain (the front of the chest) will continue to pull and recreate that pain. Much of the work is then done on the front of the chest, not only during the treatment, but with home care exercises which help give the client tools that they can use to promote their own health. As the title suggests, we have a tendency to view the area of pain as the place that needs the majority of the treatment time spent on it. However the body is beautifully intricate and interconnected, meaning that if you are looking for long term relief from pain, it may be time to ask yourself “What is making this painful area a victim?”. By identifying the muscular imbalances and irritations in your body and working with a therapist, you can look for long-lasting results with a combination of treatments and home care.