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The Pain In The Fascia, Why You REALLY Have Chronic Pain

joint mobility

Chronic pain of ANY sort is not just a bad thing, but something that can really ruin one’s life! In fact, the U.S. Veterans Affairs Department has some staggering stats about chronic pain.

-Approximately 15% to 35% of patients with chronic pain also have PTSD.

-Only 2% of people who do not have chronic pain have PTSD.

-One study found that 51% of patients with chronic low back pain had PTSD symptoms. For people with chronic pain, the pain may actually serve as a reminder of the traumatic event, which will tend to make the PTSD even worse.-U.S.Department Of Veterans Affairs

-People with chronic pain have at least twice the risk of suicide than those without chronic pain. People with chronic pain are also four times more likely to have depression or anxiety than those who are pain-free.-U.S. Pain Foundation

That is serious stuff and granted, not all chronic pain leads to such issues, but these are really significant problems people face. Not to mention it is estimated that 85% of people with chronic pain also will have depression, things get complicated fast! So, if this is such a BIG issue, why don’t we have better solutions?

The truth is not that there is some bad guy boogeyman keeping the world from solving chronic pain issues, but rather because it is complicated.

chronic pain

Chronic pain is something that I have dealt with for almost 35 years thanks to a really aggressive spinal disease. I can tell you that at first you think there is some “magical” solution. That if I were to do that ONE treatment, that ONE form of therapy, take that ONE medication, or do that ONE exercise program, I will fix all my chronic pain issues. The truth is that it doesn’t usually work that way. In fact, if it does for someone GREAT! However, 99% of people it probably won’t.

That is why we have to take an approach that looks at many different aspects of chronic pain. Such things as life stress, nutrition, sleep, exercise, social interactions, and much more. It won’t be ONE thing that saves you, rather making a lot of little steps in many things. One that is important is realizing how myofascial pain is actually a big deal! What is that?!

chronic pain

Most people have probably heard of myofascial pain (connective tissue and muscle) as “knots” or “adhesions”. That is a bit of an oversimplification, but we can go with that generally right now. The bigger issue is that myofascial pain is REAL pain and can refer to other areas of the body. While there are many reasons that such pain can occur, some of the most important are…

-Acute injury to an area

-Over fatiguing muscles

-Chronic instability

-Mental Stress: According to the Mayo Clinic, “People who frequently experience stress and anxiety may be more likely to develop trigger points in their muscles. One theory holds that these people may be more likely to clench their muscles, a form of repeated strain that leaves muscles susceptible to trigger points.”

The changes of fascia from injury, over training, incorrect training, unbalance training, instability of the body, posture, and mental stress plays a large role in causing some of those very common chronic pain issues. So, you see it can’t be just about foam rolling, or just getting acupuncture (which I am a fan of), massage, or even just exercise. It has to be a multi modality approach, for example, deep relaxation techniques (like meditation) have been shown to have positive effects on myofascial pain as this 2017 study shows…

“Recent literature has shed light on the fundamental role of free radicals in the emergence of myofascial pain. The accumulating free radicals disrupt mitochondrial integrity and function, leading to sustenance and progression of MPS. Meditation on the other hand was shown to reduce free radical load and can result in clinical improvement. ‘Mindfulness’ is the working principle behind the effect of all meditations, and I emphasize that it can serve as a potential tool to reverse the neuro-architectural, neurobiological and cellular changes that occur in MPS.”

Such practices also have to work on building back the structure of the myofascial system through integrated movements, improve our stability, reduce inflammation, increase our mindfulness and mental relaxation, all at once. That sounds like a hefty order, but we have compelling evidence that mind-body practices done correctly can actually do this as this 2010 study explains…

“Tai Chi was a complex therapy combined physical exercise and mind-body treatment that can alleviate pain, reduce stress, improve function, and quality of life.[42] The other mediating factors were considered to be related with musculoskeletal strength improvement and level of physical activity.[43]”

Now, you don’t have to do tai chi to achieve these effects, but the concepts behind these mind-body practices tap into all these qualities that relate to helping chronic pain. The biggest challenge is someone has to WANT to get better and as the famed physical therapist, Dr. Karl Lewitt said…

It does take practice, work, consistency, and the willingness to realize that things don’t happen overnight. These aren’t magical solutions to complex problems, but the hope is that they can play an integral part in helping people better understand why their life is not where they want it to be because of their chronic pain. Empowering people is really key and using exercises like the one’s I show below can be a positive part of helping people regain that feeling of agency in their lives. That IS HUGE!

Don’t miss our 4-week Myofascial Integrated Movement MasterClass for Chronic Low Back Pain where we will dive deep into the science, coaching, and programming of these powerful solutions for one of the world’s biggest issues. Check it out and grab our early bird HERE