Pain Keeps Coming Back
Pain has a habit of returning time and time again. When repetitive tension, or severe increases in tension build in the muscle and the connective tissue, neuromyofascial trigger points can develop. Neuro refers to nerves, myo refers to muscle and fascia refers to connective tissue. Lets call them trigger points for short. These trigger points are hyper contracted fibres of muscle and connective tissue. Hyper sensitised pain receptors are interwoven into the tissue.
Tension is synonymous with stress. We are exposed to four major stresses; physical stress (of which postural stress is a form), emotional stress (which include our worry patterns), thermal stress (exposure to hot and cold environments, heat stroke, hypo and hyperthermia) and oxidative stress (the stress on our body due to the toxic by-products of metabolism). All these stresses erode the integrity of the muscle and skeletal system and activate pain receptors. The body has a large capacity to be able to deal with stress. However when a threshold is breached, it can be difficult to restore balance to the system.
It is these trigger points that can lead to the faulty biomechanics of the joints, and the development of many pain syndromes. Over time the build up of trigger points leads to stiffness weakness and pain in the muscles and joints. This brings about faulty movement patterns in the joints and can eventually lead to degenerative changes – osteoarthritis. The longer these trigger points have been building up the more painful a condition can be.
The pain receptors in the trigger points become hyper-sensitised which means that the longer they are active the less stimulus it takes to continue to activate them- peripheral sensitisation . These pain receptors are firing pain signals into the spinal cord and brain, causing them to be hypersensitised – central sensitisation. The consequence of this is that our perception of the pain is increased. So as the trigger points become more deeply rooted, it takes less stress to stimulate them and the perception of the pain increases.
Memory For Pain
Over time the nervous system develops a memory for the trigger points and a memory for pain, and they return time and time again. If we keep doing what we have always done, we will keep getting the same results, Pain