Why do I have pain?
Our nervous system detects pain when we’re ill, tired, stressed, or have just sustained an injury. This is because previous injuries made us more sensitive to pain. This is why people often get recurring musculoskeletal pain in the same places of the body even when there has not been a recent injury.
Acute pain is usually caused by muscular spasms and inflammation. Your sense of where your body is in space has been altered (proprioception). Acute pain messages from your body confuse your brain and feel “out of place”. But don’t worry, nothing is out of place. There is a myth that osteopaths “put bones into place”. That is not true. Bones never “go out of place”, even if it feels like they do. If they did, we would send you straight to A&E to relocate them by an orthopaedic surgeon!
When there is chronic pain, pain for more than 3 months, our brain confuses our body.
Tissues heal in 6 weeks. After that period if pain persists, we say that our nervous system has become conditioned to feel pain. This is known as ‘central sensitisation’ and your brain must relearn a different way of relating to pain and your body.
How can osteopathy help with pain?
Pain is often blamed on “incorrect posture” but recent pain science suggests this is not the case. Posture has little to do with why we get pain when it is not attributed to an injury. Our nervous system has simply become more sensitive to pain stimulation. This is because of our bodies’ own protective mechanisms. When the body is injured, or under stress, it releases hormones and neurotransmitters that sensitise the nerves to pain signals. This makes them more easily activated and trigger pain. Through osteopathic treatment and movement and exercise we can reduce pain stimulation.
Although osteopathy can help, you can still experience some post-treatment discomfort for 24-48 hours and only if there is significant inflammation present.
Inflammation may take a few days, even 2-6 weeks to subside in sub-acute cases.
How many treatments will I need?
Osteopathy is not a ‘silver bullet’.
The longer you have been in pain, the longer it will take us to help you. This is because your nervous system has become ‘patterned’ in a pain state when it is considered chronic (over 3 months).
The good news is that your nervous system has ‘neuroplasticity’ and can adapt. This means that with the right approach, your body can heal itself and find its own equilibrium. So, with the help of your osteopath, you can learn to create new habits that can reduce your pain and improve your overall health and wellbeing. Learning another way of being takes time. Through techniques such as mindfulness and breathing exercises, your body can become more aware of its own patterns. By gradually introducing new habits, your body can develop neural pathways that may alleviate pain and improve your overall health. This can take time and patience, but the rewards are worth it.
Osteopathy is a therapeutic process that requires your commitment. By that, we mean working with your osteopath to identify the cause of your pain. In addition, we encourage you to work on lifestyle changes to help yourself.
It is imperative to have realistic expectations before seeing us if you have been in pain for more than 3 months, and therefore suffer from chronic pain. If you have been in pain for a long time and expect to need more sessions with us we can offer a bundle price for 3 or 6 follow up appointments.
Please call us to book a free 15-minute telephone consultation before booking in with us to discuss your expectations.