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Debunking the 10 common myths for joint pain

Are you tired of living with constant physical pain, discomfort, stiffness? Do you often find yourself overwhelmed and confused with an ocean full of information on internet, and social media. On top of that different opinions from the medical providers can create confusion and you wonder who to believe.  

Well, It’s time to debunk the common misconceptions surrounding physical pain and discomfort and shed light on the truth. In this article, I will dispel the common pain myth and explore the real reasons behind your pain.

Often, misconceptions and myths about pain can hinder your ability to find effective relief. Many people believe that pain is always a sign of damage or injury, but the truth is, pain can be complex and influenced by various factors. Understanding the true nature of pain can help alleviate unnecessary worry and provide a better path towards finding relief.

I’ll dive deep into the science behind pain perception, exploring how the brain processes pain signals and why some individuals experience pain differently than others. By debunking these common misconceptions, we can empower ourselves to find the right strategies for managing and addressing your discomfort.

I will talk about 10 common Pain Misconceptions one by one along with some stories and metaphors so it is easy to understand. Not only that, I  will also reveal what is factual based on proven science: it’s essential to rely on scientific evidence and expert opinions. By exploring the latest research and insights from medical professionals, you can gain a deeper understanding of pain and its management.

Myth #1: WORST INJURY MEANS WORST IMAGINABLE PAIN.

Most people think if you had worst injury that means you are dealing with the worst imaginable pain. Is that really true?

Let’s look at two different scenarios to understand what is the real truth behind it :

In the first scenario,  a man goes to the doctor for headache and tenderness in his forehead.

Doctor touches his head and orders an  X ray. X ray results found a nail in his head from four year ago.

Astounded, the doctor asked the patient how the nail loaded in your head”. The man says “I have no idea.” Doctor was curious and said “ How can you not know, you have had a NAIL in your head for last four years.”

The patient said “Oh, as I think about this, I was working on a wood working project and a nail went somewhere and I couldn’t find it.”  Bottom line is, there is a definite injury but no pain.  

Second scenario, a famous story published in British Journal of 1995 and many other places since then.

A 29 year old man walks to construction site and stepped on a nail on a wood plank. He show the nail pierced through this boot, and came out on the other side. He screamed in pain, called 911, and was rushed to ER. Doctors and nurses were not able to take his boot off, because every time they touched the boot he was in severe pain.  So they cut the boot little by little, every time they touched or moved the nail, he screamed in excruciating pain.

men stepping on nail

Long story short, when they were done cutting the shoe, do you know what they found?

Any guess?

The nail had passed between his big toe and second toe, leaving him totally uninjured. In spite of all the pain he has felt. His pain was real, no doubt about that, despite having no injury.

First case serious injury and no pain, second case: no injury but worst imaginable pain.

FACT:

While pain can sometimes be a symptom of an underlying health issue, it is not always the case. In fact, pain can be a complex and multifaceted experience influenced by various factors such as weather, stress, lifestyle, sleep, nutrition, activities  etc.

It’s important to understand that pain is not always proportional to the severity of an injury or illness. For example, a minor muscle strain can cause excruciating pain, while a more serious condition may cause little to no discomfort. By recognizing that pain is not always an accurate measure of the extent of damage or injury, you can avoid unnecessary worry and focus on finding appropriate solutions for relief.

Myth #2: Disc herniations are very serious and means surgery.

Many clients I come across are very fearful of the diagnosis of disc buldge. Many people have discectomy, or laminectomy surgery to remove the disc or make space to take the pressure off the nerve.

I agree, disc buldge can cause pain, but studies show 40% of people have buldging disc with no back pain.

Spine disc prolapse

Disc bulge do absorbs and this is proven by the scans.

Let me tell you a story, a woman came to ER with excruciating radicular pain. So CT scan was done, and results found big disc herniation/budge pressing on her nerve. They asked her if she can could every week for scan and she agreed.

About 6 weeks later, the disc bulge was 50% smaller.

Since then, 12 studies have shown that in 6-9 months of time, the disc budge is completely absorbed.

FACT:

Remember, Disc buldges absorbs. This is proven by the research.

Myth #3: Back pain can only fixed by core exercises.

So does that mean every single person who has a weak core has back pain? Actually back pain can get aggravated by doing crunches, sit ups, mason twist, left lifts, leg bicycles.

In fact, certain core exercises like crunches, sit-ups, mason twists, leg lifts, and leg bicycles can actually aggravate back pain, especially if done incorrectly or if the core muscles are already weak or strained. These exercises can put excessive strain on the spine and surrounding muscles, leading to or exacerbating back pain.

Women working on crunches

FACT:

Only people with hyper instability and demonstrating these four signs need the core stabilization exercises. Watch this video to know more details.

Myth #4 MRI finds the root cause of the problem.

It may come as a surprise that many MRI findings don’t necessarily have anything to do with pain – in fact, up to 96% of people without back pain can show signs like disc degeneration and bulges.

The same holds true for meniscus tears (60%) or rotator cuff tears (40%) among those who feel no discomfort.

Well there are several studies out there on knees and lower back showing that 40% -60% of people who don’t have knee pain or back pain have the same arthritis as people are in pain, with similar demographics.

How do you explain the pain now?

When you have pain, and you go the doctor, he will order the X-ray which will show some wear and tear for sure.

You are in pain, your x ray shows the abnormality, they connect two dots, you have pain because of the results shown in the X ray.

MRI of the spine

FACT:

MRI and CT scans are done when you are lying own, so they are static. But your pain might be when you are moving.

But this scans don’t show the dynamic activities like how muscle are working, how joints are moving, blood flow, electrical activities in the area.

So they are limited in what they can show.

If you would like to find the source of the pain, download this Guide.

Myth #5  Pain is inevitable part of aging

Another common misconception surrounding physical discomfort is the belief that it is solely a consequence of aging. While it’s true that certain conditions, such as arthritis, become more prevalent with age, physical discomfort can affect individuals of all ages.

Regarding back pain, as we age, our spine deteriorate. Welcome to human race. As we age we get wrinkles correct? Same thing happens inside the body, your joints, your disc deteriorates with age. Arthritis, disc degeneration etc. can be thought of as . We call them wrinkle inside.

So In this graph as we age,  the deterioration increases.  Agree?

chart shows average - age and lower back pain show up rate

The lower back pain is more prevalent at 30, 40 and 50 years of age.

After age 50, that graph drops. Bottom line wrinkle on the skin don’t hurt, the same way internal wrinkles don’t hurt. There is no relation between the age and LBP.

By dismissing physical discomfort as an inevitable part of aging, we may overlook potential causes and miss out on effective treatments. It’s crucial to understand that pain is not an unavoidable consequence of getting older, and seeking proper medical evaluation and treatment is essential for managing and addressing discomfort at any age.

FACT:

Most of the time OLDER People complain of pain is because they slow down, they don’t move as much as they should. It’s not because of their age.

Myth #6 No pain No gain

Many people believe while doing exercises, if it hurts means it’s working. “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” They push through pain.

The result is flare-ups, needing more recovery time. If you continue this “ No Pain No Gain “attitude or mind set, you will experience frequent flare-ups and longer recovery time. Over time you will not be able to do any of the exercises without severe pain.

Exercise by pushing in to pain

FACT:

Pain is telling you something.  It is good to exercise but touch the pain and back off, never push through pain. The more you push through pain, the stronger the pain pathways in your nervous system become.

Myth #7 Rest is best treatment for the back pain.

The next myth is the exact opposite of No Pain No gain. Some people believe that “IF IT HURTS, DON’T DO IT.” But complete bed rest is one of the worst things you can do for your back pain or any other kind of stubborn pain. In order to heal from the pain you have to touch the pain, and then back off. Do a little bit more than yesterday but not much more. Gradually  your endurance increases with in that range and you are training the nervous system at the same time.

While rest can be beneficial for acute conditions, it is not always the best approach for managing persistent pain. In fact, excessive rest can sometimes lead to muscle weakness, stiffness, and prolonged recovery times.

FACT:

Understanding the true nature of pain and its underlying causes is crucial for finding appropriate solutions. In some cases, movement, exercise, and physical therapy can be more effective in reducing pain and promoting healing. It’s important to consult with healthcare professionals who can provide personalized recommendations based on the specific nature of your pain

Myth #8 Losing weight is the solution for the pain relief:

It is true, excessive body weight can put pressure on the lower extremity joints especially knee. But that means more body weight puts excessive pressure on the joint but not pain. Losing weight may make you feel lighter but may not necessary get rid of pain.

Women frustrated because can't lose weight

And it is so hard to exercise to lose weight when you are dealing with persistent pain. So it is wise to lessen the pain first, gradually increase the exercises. With proper nutritional and calorie intake, you can lose weight.

FACT:

Body weight doesn’t have direct effect on pain.

Myth #9 Chronic pain means forever pain.

Many people believe that there is no cure for chronic pain, they surrender and accept the fact that living with pain is normal.

Image of chronic pain

FACT:

No matter how long you’ve had in chronic pain, there is hope! Advances in neuroscience have evolved a long way in last 20 years. The main reason for the chronic pain is structural and functional changes in the nervous system. With right training it is possible to reverse these changes.  With commitment and proven technique and strategies,  and proper guidance, it can be possible to break free from years of discomfort and start living a PAIN-FREE life.

Myth # 10 Alternative Treatments and Therapies for Managing persistent pain don’t work.

In addition to traditional medical interventions, alternative treatments and therapies can play a significant role in managing physical discomfort. These approaches, which include yoga, tai-chi, water aerobics, acupuncture, massage therapy, and herbal remedies, can provide complementary support to conventional treatments.

Women's walking

FACT:

While alternative treatments may not work for everyone, many individuals find relief and improved well-being through these modalities. It’s important to consult with qualified practitioners and discuss your options to determine the most suitable approach for your specific needs.

Lifestyle Changes to Prevent and Alleviate Physical Discomfort

Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to physical discomfort. Making certain lifestyle changes can help prevent pain and alleviate existing discomfort. From maintaining a healthy weight and practicing good posture to engaging in regular exercise and managing stress, small adjustments can have a profound impact on our physical well-being.

By adopting a holistic approach to our health, we can reduce the likelihood of developing chronic pain and improve our overall quality of life. It’s important to remember that every individual is unique, and what works for one person may not work for another. Consulting with healthcare professionals and exploring different strategies can help us find the most effective solutions for our specific needs.

In summery, Dispelling the pain myth is crucial for empowering individuals to take control of their physical well-being. By debunking the common misconceptions surrounding physical discomfort, we can gain a better understanding of pain and its management. Seeking professional help, exploring alternative treatments, and making lifestyle changes are all important steps in finding relief and improving our overall quality of life.

Ignoring persistent pain can lead to worsening symptoms, decreased mobility, and reduced quality of life. By seeking timely medical attention, you can address the root causes of your discomfort and receive appropriate guidance and treatment.

It’s time to break free from the misconceptions and understand the complexities of pain and find effective strategies for addressing and managing your pain and discomfort.

Book a Pain Breakthrough Session; call to live pain-free, fearless active life.

Sources:

Twomey LT, Taylor JR. Age changes in lumbar vertebrae and intervertebral discs. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 1987 Nov;(224):97-104. PMID: 3665259.
Kjaer P, Leboeuf-Yde C, Korsholm L, Sorensen JS, Bendix T. Magnetic resonance imaging and low back pain in adults: a diagnostic imaging study of 40-year-old men and women. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2005 May 15;30(10):1173-80. doi: 10.1097/01.brs.0000162396.97739.76. PMID: 15897832.
Flynn T, Fritz J, Whitman J, Wainner R, Magel J, Rendeiro D, Butler B, Garber M, Allison S. A clinical prediction rule for classifying patients with low back pain who demonstrate short-term improvement with spinal manipulation. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2002 Dec 15;27(24):2835-43. doi: 10.1097/00007632-200212150-00021. PMID: 12486357.
Hicks GE, Fritz JM, Delitto A, McGill SM. Preliminary development of a clinical prediction rule for determining which patients with low back pain will respond to a stabilization exercise program. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2005 Sep;86(9):1753-62. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2005.03.033. PMID: 16181938.
Louw A, Diener I, Butler DS, Puentedura EJ. The effect of neuroscience education on pain, disability, anxiety, and stress in chronic musculoskeletal pain. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation. Dec 2011;92(12):2041-2056.

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