Milton Trager gave us many strategies for working with people in pain. He advised us to play with pain rather than trying to eliminate it, suggesting we use smaller/ slower movement, or simply pause. Another piece of advice from Milton was not to push the limits to see if the pain is relieved. I agree wholeheartedly with Milton's suggestions. And we can add more strategies particularly in our role as educators, when we have accurate knowledge of what pain actually is.
Recent research in pain sciences reveals that many of our commonly held beliefs are no longer true.
I invite you to consider letting go of the following commonly held beliefs if they are still lurking.
- Pain is from tissue damage.
- There are pain receptors in our tissues.
- There are pain pathways.
- There is a pain center in the brain.
- In order to reduce pain the tissue needs to be fixed.
Because beliefs inform our way of working with clients, if we still hold on to the out-dated information listed above, we will be led in the wrong direction, searching for the tissue at fault. When clinicians and bodyworkers focus only on fixing the tissue, they end up chasing pain and leading clients with chronic pain down a path that is never-ending. This approach actually contributes to increasing and prolonging recovery
I would like to introduce some new information that I've found helpful in my approach to working with clients, especially those experiencing chronic pain. I generally drip this information into sessions when the moment arises. I've witnessed the power of knowledge to reduce pain significantly in a very short period of time. Yes, even chronic pain!
Allow each point below resonate with you for a moment or two.
- Pain is a complex bio-psycho-social phenomenon.
- We have nociceptors in our tissues that detect noxious mechanical and chemical stimuli.
- With chronic pain, tissues are more likely sensitized than damaged.
- The spinal cord decides which nociceptive messages to send to the brain.
- The brain weighs all the information, from beliefs, past experience, emotional content, nociception or lack thereof, and more, and decides "how dangerous is this really".
- Pain is an outcome of the brain when it concludes that the organism is in danger.
- Nociception is neither necessary nor sufficient for the brain to produce pain.
- Pain science education reduces pain.
- All pain is real, and we need to ask "what is it, in this client, that is making the brain construct a pain experience?"
There are abundant free resources online. Some of my favorites are videos of two world renowned Physical Therapists, pain scientists, and pain science educators. Lorimer Moseley and David Butler, both from Australia, are as entertaining as they are knowledgeable.
Have fun finding some of their gems. Here are a few to get you started.
If you would like a comprehensive resource that is very readable for people without a science background, I suggest Explain Pain by David Butler and Lorimer Moseley These authors have many more products available online.
And of course, the Tragerology modules on Nociception, and the subsequent module on Neuroception will be more specifically applicable to Trager. Enjoy!