Wear and tear does not equal pain

A short thought article on a single aspect of Complex Pain Syndromes. Remembering the key word is complex and I’ll try to make this simple, not covering all aspects of pain, especially yours.

I am doing a course on “Flexion intolerance in the lumbar spine success” and he had a mind blowing slide.

I have seen slides like this before but not in years and I forgot just how much degeneration is “normal.”

In study groups, and there is always controversy in study’s but generally speaking the 20 year old’s looked at: 37% had some clinically detectable disk degeneration BUT NO PAIN.

*please note: if you have a diagnosis shown on the chart (or not on the chart) you may have pain and other medical complications. Often degenerative or injury damage is the primary driver of pain.

You can read the graph for the rest. I have said this to a lot of people. On X-ray, CT scan, MRI… while there may be all kinds of abnormalities that does not A. equal pain, B. equal worst function, C. damage outside normal wear and tear. But it can mean that.

Another graphic I had never seen, I knew it’s true and if you have seen me you know I ask these sorts of questions all the time.

The overflowing cup: Build it up or decrease its contents aka: Calm shit down and build shit back up

From the guys blog I am taking the 12 hour course from. Once your cup run-eth over, you got problems. Then it’s a matter of how much each aspect of what’s filling your cup contributes. You see tissue health is there and for some people that is enough to give real pain, ask me I know all about it from personal experience.

Another way to think of it is everything in your life adds up and if your tolerance that day is above the amount you will have no pain.

Or the tissue health fills your cup up 10% and the additional factors in our lives fills the cup up the other 90%+1% and we have pain or sadness, indigestion, insomnia, fuzzy thinking etc.

That is why a person can go to a clinic and get their degenerated shoulder worked on for a year or two and not experience significant changes in their pain experience, because the other factors have not been addressed.

I remember my first week with my Acupuncture teacher, Elisabeth and we had a patient with a frozen, painful shoulder. Her first question was “who do you want to punch in the nose?”

The guy and I looked at her like she was crazy and she just looked back at him and didn’t blink. The guys face softened and he sheepishly said, “but he’s an ass$()#”.

I thought I’d entered the twilight zone. They went on to have a lively conversation about his brother and their history and other ways of looking at it and two hours later the guys shoulder moved like new, she did more than just talk to him. That was 23 years ago and I remember it like it was this morning, I was speechless.

She did tell me that it’s not always an ’emotions holding pattern’ and sometimes the thing (shoulder) is just broken. But Acupuncture works on the holding pattern and the tissue change. Again 23 years ago I thought I was talking to an alien. Not anymore.

But it does indicate how complex pain can be. For sure most if not 100% of people that come to my office are short on sleep, water and movement. Especially now you are short on social connection, texting is not connection by the way. But when I ask them, 80% for sure insist they have adequate sleep and water.

If you did not know, I was in 24/7 pain for 5+ years after my car accident. Despite being in full time therapy for the first year and lots in the following years. Nothing helped not re-hab, not meds, not sleep, not …… It sucked.

Of course the lucky fairy got me in front of some people who appeared to magically heal me and here we are 25+ years later.

If you or someone you know has pain, especially complex pain (and not just physical pain). Think about the cup picture and see if you can improve anything there. I normally tell people we are trying to improve their Mental, Physical, Emotional, Nutritional, Spiritual (your definition) and Environmental health.

If you can improve those 2% each, that normally adds up to enough to radically improve ones situation. Sometimes you can get 5-10% in some areas. It allows space in ones Wei (sort of Immune) function to help a person be ‘well’ (healthy.)

If it was always easy, I would not be spending Sunday on a 12 hour course on pain. Sometimes it’s tough, but I found in my journey with pain, there was no other option than to keep looking for a solution.

I wish you as safe and successful journey to health.

Be Well,
Ward Willison
Kelowna Acupuncture & Other Natural Therapies

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