Opinion

Listen to your pain

There’s a popular saying that goes, “Until the pain becomes greater than the fear of the unknown, we will stay stuck and be unwilling to change.”

I have seen how true this is, both personally and in my practice. In fact, I have learned that pain is the most effective “change agent” we have.

I estimate that over half of my patients use pain as their primary reason for consulting me. The other half have learned that they can lessen or even prevent pain by discovering the source and then making the appropriate changes in their lives.

Pain is definitely one message we hear from our bodies. All people have a different tolerance for pain. Some are quick to feel pain; others need what I call the ‘two-by-four approach.’ In either case, as soon as the pain passes the tolerance level, most Americans do one of two things: medicate or minimize.

There’s no end to the ways we can medicate today. There are literally hundreds of pharmaceutical drugs available that act as analgesics or pain relievers, many without prescriptions.

Ignoring or minimizing our pain does not help us heal. I like to think of two types of pain.

“Good pain” can be described as a situation in which we get help to figure out the source or reason for the pain. Then we find what we need to change in our lifestyle or routine so our body or mind doesn’t need to get our attention with pain.

“Bad pain” is the type that may go away for a while with medication or minimization, but keeps returning because the cause or source hasn’t been addressed.

Today, I’m going to challenge you to look at pain in a new way. Instead of masking your physical or emotional pain, here are some steps you can take. These are not meant to be a substitute for treatment.

• Rate your physical pain on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being unbearable, knife-like, or unable to sleep or eat. If it rates seven or under, you may want to try some of the following: Use ice packs (20 minutes) for inflammation and moist heat (15 minutes) for sore muscles, alternating the two to improve circulation.

• Make friends with your pain. Instead of pushing it away, use your breath to connect to it. Ask your body/mind what it is trying to tell you. Listen! This may sound weird, but many times you will get an awareness of what the source of the pain is.

• Gently touch or move the hurting area of your body. Spend time listening to what position or temperature feels better. Let yourself feel the emotions attached to the pain. Release them through talking, writing or tears.

• Find a health care provider that will help you find the cause of your pain and teach you ways to improve your overall health. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and do your own research for answers.

Remember that your body is a self-healing organism and that pain is often the first awareness we have that it needs help. Pay attention early and you will live a healthier, more vibrant life.

• Leslie Bedell is owner of Agape Chiropractic in North Bend. Call her at (425) 888-1670.

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