Remember that time when you stubbed your toe as a kid? The time you sprained your ankle during a high school basketball game? How about years ago when you had to have your appendix removed in an emergency surgery? Some injuries we may have forgotten, like stubbing your toe, others we don’t think about because we have moved on. These injuries happened years ago and are in the past. So how could an injury so long ago cause a problem today?
In our clinic, it is common for our patients to say things like ‘I didn’t do anything to hurt myself I just woke up with the pain’ or ‘my back pain came out of nowhere.’ There was no traumatic accident or memorable event that caused the pain. Most of the time the pain is due to repetitive stress. These stresses can be obvious. Imagine a person who washes windows for a living. They do the same motion with their arm over and over, year after year. That’s a lot of stress on that shoulder. But sometimes repetitive stress is not so obvious.
Patients who come to our clinic soon realize that where they have pain is often not where the cause is located. A lot of times it is nearby, but many times the cause is far away. This can be a reason why previous treatments failed. You may be suffering from back pain and your treatments were all focused on your back. The chiropractor ‘cracks’ your back, the massage therapist works on tight back muscles, and your physical therapist works on strengthening your core. You get temporary relief, but the pain keeps coming back. Now this is where that old, stubbed toe comes into play.
“My stubbed toe? You mean when I was a kid?” That’s right. Let me explain.
When you stubbed your toe it caused you to limp a little. You spent a few weeks not putting as much weight through that toe. It got stiff and stayed that way. The pain went away, but the way you walk changed ever so slightly even though it felt normal to you. The stiffness in your toe kept it from fully extending and so when you walk your knee could not fully extend then your hip then your back. For years you walked this way with no problem, but over time the stresses in your back finally resulted in pain. That’s right…your back problem is a toe problem.
How about another example? Remember that sprained ankle. It hurt when it happened and you kept weight off of it for a couple weeks. You may have not noticed, but you kept weight off it for years. You put more your weight on the opposite leg and this made you feel unbalanced. You moved your head and neck in the opposite direction to balance things out. Now years later you have a pain in the neck.
What about the appendix? After a surgery, the body will protect the area. You probably didn’t notice that you bent forward a bit, slouched down, and the upper body moved toward the surgery site. You did this to protect the healing wound. It was a smart thing to do, but sometimes the body remembers there was a surgery there even though it healed. Standing up tall again would put stress in that area so you’ve stayed flexed down for years. Your shoulders fell forward without noticing it. Your upper back grew stiff and rounded. For years you have had less room for your shoulders to move. Now when you lift up your arm to get the dishes you feel ‘pinching.’ Your body and brain have finally said ‘give me more space.’ Your shoulder pain was a result of an old abdominal surgery.
Can you see how an old injury from the past can create a problem today? At Body Evolution Physical Therapy & Wellness we believe in performing a detailed evaluation to make sure we find the cause of your pain? We will first help to alleviate your pain where you feel it and then make sure to look at all the other areas of your body that are involved. We can even help with things like food choices and reducing life stressors that may be part of the cause. If you think have had tried everything you are wrong. Give us a call now to see how we can help you. Don’t wait any longer to get on the road to recovery. We look forward to hearing from you.
I'm just a guy helping active adults and athletes frustrated by nagging aches and pains naturally return to a healthy lifestyle.