By Dr. Kimberly Pugh, B.Sc., D.C.
The other morning, I woke up feeling stiff and sore from a workout the night before. When a hot shower didn’t improve matters, I convinced myself that I could carry on as I usually do, placing the feelings of pain at the back of my mind. I’m sure many of you have done this. It was the typical ‘grin and bear it’ scenario that so many of us are very good at. Perhaps you popped a pill and were able to forget about the pain for a while. Sometimes we dismiss the information our body is giving us and simply get on with our day, despite our better judgement.
Pain signals are warning signs. Our body is trying to let us know that there is dysfunction present in one or more of our systems. In my case, it is an old sports injury that flares up from time to time. It affects the way I walk, how long I can sit comfortably, my ability to exercise effectively, and my mood. The longer we ignore the pain signals, the more problematic the dysfunction becomes.
We eventually reach our ‘breaking point.’ This is the moment when we realize that pain is affecting our ability to function. Eventually, we have to modify our activities of daily living due to the pain, and this in turn can affect our disposition, our concentration, and how we respond to the people around us. Everyone’s threshold is different. Often it will only take a minor occurrence to set us back. Take ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back” analogy: we have been dealing with the pain for so long, that we’ve become accustomed to it, and a minor injury on top of that can seriously overthrow us. Anyone that is a caregiver knows how overwhelming this moment can be. If you cannot care for yourself, how will you be able to care for others?
Patients often come in to my office reporting that their pain has been there off and on for many years, but they’ve never done anything about it. They have many excuses, and I have heard them all. At the top of the list is “I just didn’t have time,” or “I thought it would go away on it’s own.”
Once dysfunction becomes chronic, correcting it becomes a challenge. It may take several treatments. There will most definitely be ups and downs during the course of therapy. It is important to be patient while the blood circulation improves, scar tissue breaks down, and tissues are able to heal. Most people become easily frustrated at this stage, as they want a quick fix, but it is not possible. The longer dysfunction has been present, the longer it will take to correct.
Once care has been initiated, and the body is functioning better, it is essential to switch the focus to wellness care. Wellness care is centred on prevention. Most patients come in once every few weeks or so to prevent recurrence of their complaint. We all know, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” yet chances are, once the pain and symptoms are gone, I will not see the patient again until the next time he or she injures themselves, and so the cycle continues.
We can take our bodies for granted and convince ourselves that we are okay when we are not. It is up to each of us to tune into our body’s signals to break the pain cycle. We must make ourselves a priority. Have regular relaxation or therapeutic massages. Practice yoga. Get regular physicals. Eat well and exercise. Visit the chiropractor for wellness care. If you are overwhelmed with any aspect of your life, speak with a professional.
Taking action when your body needs it most will improve your overall quality of life, and the lives of those around you. Honour hints, signals, and warning signs. Listen to your inner voice, and think twice.
Click here to share this article with a friend.
Dr. Kimberly Pugh B.Sc., D.C.
Optimum Wellness Centres
Dr. Kimberly Pugh employs a holistic approach to wellness, assessing diet, sleep, stress, and other lifestyle factors that contribute to health. She practices in SE Calgary. For more information, check out www.optimumwellnesscentres.com