The possible causes of your pain can be endless. When someone comes into my office complaining of pain, the first thing I ask is for them to describe the type of pain to me. Sometimes it’s difficult to put into words and he or she is not sure what has caused the pain. I am going to provide you the first step to accessing your pain.
What does the pain feel like?
Sometimes it can prove difficult to put into words, so take a moment to really think about it. When I speak with my clients, I find that the pain falls mostly under two categories: a dull aching/ throbbing sensation or a sharp, shooting tingling sensation.
- Dull Aching and Throbbing: It’s the sensation that you feel the day after an intense workout or how you feel the day after moving all your belongings to a new apartment. That soreness is a dull aching and throbbing sensation that is linked to a muscular issue because that’s the language that muscles use to communicate to you.
- Sharp shooting and tingling sensation: If the pain you’re experiencing can mostly be described as this then most likely it is nerve related. Before you get nervous, just know that this is common and can be helped. Sometimes the sensation is caused by a muscle that has gotten so tight that it clamps down on a nearby nerve and that triggers that sensation. This is very common in the low back, buttocks and legs, more commonly known as sciatica or in the shoulders, arms and hands (known as thoracic outlet syndrome). Say you’re feeling a sharp pain going down your buttocks and sometimes all the way down your leg. Hip and buttock muscles can become very tight and these tight muscles press on the sciatic nerve, causing the sensation you’re feeling. That sensation you’re feeling is the language that your nerves use to communicate to you.
This is very important: If you think you have pulled or tweaked a muscle, for the first 48 hours after the incident you will use ice on the area, not heat. When a muscle gets pulled there is an acute injury period where there is increased blood flow in the area of the injured muscle, known as inflammation. Ice helps soothe that injury and speeds up the healing process. Heating during the first 48 hours will only further aggravate the injury and slow down the healing process. Heating an area dilates the blood vessels and increase blood flow to the area, which is the opposite of what you want to do here. You should add ice to constrict the blood vessels to prevent decrease the amount of blood in the area. Learn more about the difference between heat and cold therapy here.
How do you know if you’ve pulled or tweaked a muscle? It’s described as a sharp pull of muscle, like when you bend down to pick something up and on the way back up you experience that intense muscle pull.
How often is this pain happening?
Now you know what your pain feels like and what it most likely the issue, muscle or nerves. The next step is to think about how often you’re experiencing it and when are the most recurring times. Being conscious of this might alert you to a pattern. Maybe you’ll notice the pain happens more often when you’re at your desk or when you first wake up in the morning. Knowing this will alert you to certain changes you will have to make. You also might realize that you’re in pain more often than you think. But please don’t just accept this to be a part of your life. You need to realize that there is a remedy and that pain does not, and should not be a part of your everyday life.
How to fix it?
Check out previous blogs posts on how to alleviate the pain: