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FASCINATING PAIN (3-5 minutes read)

Welcome to my webpage. If you are here, probably you or someone you know suffers with some form of pain. Injury, maybe some chronic issue, maybe pain came out of nowhere? The main objective of this blog will be to explain my work (and my passion at the same time). I will write about some examples of musculoskeletal problems I can help you with. Also you will be able to find here some interesting facts about human body.

I decided that my first post will be about pain which is a completely normal and natural experience. Pain is probably one of the most common reasons to seek medical advice. We all experience some form of aches or pains at some point in our life, yet it is one of the most controversial topic in medical world.

Since I was a teenager I was fascinated with pain. When I took part in martial arts tournaments and injured myself I knew where the pain is coming from. I was more interested why I was getting pain symptoms in the areas I have never had an injury (at least I couldn't recall). Also people around me that didn't do any sports, and they were complaining about discomforts in different areas of the body. Usually I heard from them is that their doctor was prescribing some painkillers which sometimes worked and sometimes didn’t. Why some people with poor posture have no complains at all and some “gym freaks” with perfect physique can experience pain? This and many other questions started my journey in discovering how our bodies are functioning and how are built. What do we know?

Pain is a subjective symptoms that cannot be measured in the way that blood pressure or heart rate can be measured. The way we describe pain will vary depending on our age, gender, underlying disability, social and cultural norms about acceptable pain behaviour. It is very personal experience that contains emotional and sensory components.

The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defined pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such a damage”. Basically we might experience pain, when the tissue is damaged, but we might experience it when there is no damage too.

We can divide pain for acute and chronic state. In the past the definition of acute pain was: a warning of actual of potential damage, it can last from few days to few weeks and usually stops before the healing process is completed. So for example if we go to the gym, we do a bit too much and we start having some little niggles here and there that lasts more than few days. It can be a start of more acute pain (very common in shoulder injuries).

Old definition of chronic pain was used to describe any pain that lasted 3-6 months, after the healing process has finished. Now we know that it is much more complicated than that. Some people experience moderate intensity headaches for 10-15 years on daily basis. In theory the tissue is healthy, yet our body is constantly sending pain signals to our brain.

I work with many people that experience constant pain. Persistent pain may have a major adverse affects on self-esteem, occupations of everyday life, relationships, physical function, emotional state and general quality of life. That's way regaining control over one's pain is such an important factor to live normal life.

As a therapist I take in consideration how often the pain is experienced (did my client experienced similar symptoms within last few years), how acute the pain is and what can make it worse. Listening to what my client has to say about his experiences is giving a lot of clues about his problem and is the most important part of consultation.

We are often not aware of the fact that our emotional state, level of fitness and lifestyle can have impact on how we perceive pain and how quickly we can recover.

Anatomy and physiology of pain is very complex and can be very challenging topic for a therapist. Especially when client reports pain in area that is far away from where the injury was. In many cases the cause of the pain is unknown. People suffering with fibromyalgia can experience pain all over the body without previous injury.

Most of people that make an appointment with me can be helped by deactivating myofascial trigger points. More about trigger points and what I can do to help will be a subject for future posts.

Mateusz “Matt” Ciesielski

Ref: 1. “Pain: a Textbook for Therapists.”; Introduction to pain. Anita. Unruh, Jenny Strong, Anthony Wright 2. The Lancet; Pain: an overview. J. D. Please, R. Melzack

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