Q. After I fell, I developed right neck pain radiating to the right shoulder. It’s been six months, and the pain persists. What could cause this type of pain?
A. Scientists, researchers, and pain experts continue to explore what causes acute pain from an injury to turn into chronic pain.
Acute pain is usually defined by the medicos as pain lasting two to three weeks. Chronic pain is defined as pain lasting two to three months or longer and sometimes becoming permanent.
Bonnie Prudden defines it in these terms.
“Acute pain is understandable, is valuable, and has a foreseeable end.” It tells you to take your hand off the hot stove, or stop sawing away on the lemon because your finger is in the way. It announces pathology like appendicitis or a bone break. “Whether the cause is cutting, burning, fracturing, or disease, the pain suggests immediate medical attention.”
Chronic pain, she says, is very different.
“Anatomic pathology is rarely attached to chronic pain. While acute pain is a warning, chronic pain may or may not have an observable cause. Or the observable cause, say, back strain after lifting a piano, is not the real cause at all, but merely a triggering mechanism for an underlying cause, trigger points. Most chronic pain is caused by a condition in the muscles. Disease is responsible for some of it, but just plain living is the cause of far more.”
Patients who come for Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy treatments, for the most part, come because they have chronic pain. Our experience has shown that there are two major reasons for chronic pain:
1.The original injury was not treated, was not treated soon enough, was not treated correctly and there is a STRESS component.
2. An old injury, or weak link so to speak, has been “lit up” due to either a more recent injury and/or ongoing STRESS.
“You must be aware of the powerful effects of your emotional climate and how damaging it can be to your muscles. We must face the fact that emotional climate plays a star role in chronic pain. First, understand the problem. Second, get rid of the pain. Third, get fit, with plenty of endurance. Then, if the climate of your life is unbearable, change the bed you made or burn it. Make a better bed. And never lie in it more than eight hours out of twenty four.”
Bonnie says that muscles are like gossips, and the longer the injury goes on the more chance it has to “organize itself” and bring adjoining muscle groups into the fray. So for instance, an original shoulder injury could eventually cause additional pain in the neck, upper back, chest, or arm.
Many years ago I was in a very bad car accident and the immediate pain was across my mid back. I felt as if I’d been whacked multiple times with a 2 x 4 board. A witness asked if I was OK and if she could help. I said, “I’m going to sit on the curb and you are going to put your elbow where I tell you to and push.” She did as I directed, I did the corrective exercise which in this case was SNAP AND STRETCH, and the pain was immediately gone never to return.
More recently I took a hard fall at a gas station where an attendant was hosing down the pavement. I carefully went to step over the hose but at the same time he pulled it so instead of stepping over it I stepped on it and down I went on my left hip and leg and my right hand, glasses and money flying. I handed the soaking wet money to the inside cashier and went back to the car, pulled out my bodo and started work right away. My wrist had already started to swell and turn blue. Someone else was driving so I addressed my forearm, wrist, and hand — and the swelling and discoloration was totally gone within minutes. Then I started on the left hip and leg. By the time we arrived back home I was totally pain free and there was no bruising at all. Even I was surprised!
Bonnie says, “The best way to offset tension is with physical activity.” Get rid of the tension BEFORE it has time to accumulate in the muscles and cause pain. Stress is every day and all day so working out at 8:00 in the morning is great but it is not the answer. You need to take mini exercise breaks. The more stress you are under the more mini breaks you need.
Exercises and photos are from
Myotherapy: Bonnie Prudden’s Complete Guide to Pain-Free Living.
If you have questions or need help, email me at email@example.com.
For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit www.bonnieprudden.com. Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help. Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®