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How Can I Start Getting Out of Pain Today? - Top 5 Things My Grandma Taught Me About Life (& Pain)

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

How is it going everybody? I am very grateful to be back in New York. I did go away for about a week and a half to take a little vacation for the 4th of July. I feel rejuvenated, recovered and I AM BACK!!!


Today, we will be talking a little bit about what I learned from my grandma. Now, some of you who saw my last live on Facebook, I mentioned how my grandma passed away three weeks ago at this point. While I was away in Maine, I did take the time to kind of sit down and reflect.

I was able to think about all the different things that she taught me. Things I learned from her over the years. I wanted to kind of take that and help you guys relate to how that impacts you and your pain. We have tons of people out there that are sitting home, dealing with pain. There's people sitting at home because of everything going on with COVID with extra fears and anxiety.

They don't want to go and see a practitioner or a therapist…They would rather sit…and…wait.

Sure. Could you see a practitioner virtually and get the pain relief you wish to have immediately?…YES! However, a majority of people still do not see the value in getting treatment or a visit through the computer screen. People during this time are STILL waiting longer to go see a clinician (unfortunately) to take care of their issue before even seeking any kind of treatment. They're more afraid of catching the virus instead of taking care of their pain.

Therefore, I did want to go over the Top Five Things that my Grandma has taught me throughout my life and relate it to you because YOU and your healthy future lives are very important to me.

You guys need this information more than I do and I hope you guys will benefit from everything that we are going to go over.


#1 – DON’T WAIT


The first thing that my grandma taught me is to NOT WAIT. Life is too short to be sitting around and waiting…Especially, when you're sitting there in pain. This is definitely something that could bite you in the butt long term (quite literally). When we have pain, some level of inflammation, or some level of injury our tissues respond accordingly because every single one of our tissues, muscles, tendons, nerves, and even our brains and spinal cord levels are impacted. Therefore, the longer you wait, the more these things change and the more the inflammation occurs resulting in greater tissue changes.


It's more like a snowball effect!!! The longer you wait and the more time you have what is ailing you, the more issues you will have later and the harder it will be to recover

If we're waiting for weeks, months, and years to get something fixed, or whether it's something that's nagging or something that's severe, you will have development of scar tissue. You will have thickening of tissues. When we have this presentation, the tissue becomes weaker overall. Instead of having that nice, smooth muscle or tendon tissue that we would expect with normal tissue, we start to have haphazard, irregular, inflamed tissue that is thickened and not as strong. This will NOT provide us with the support or function that we need.


If we start to have back pain, for example, and have back pain for a couple months, just dealing with it. You’re living with it and You’re sitting there with it. Over time, as that back pain becomes more and more chronic, whether it is pain that waxes and wanes, it's coming and going, or if it's something that is just staying there everyday from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep. This is something that can lead to changes in your neural pathways. It will affect your motor patterns, how you move, and how you do things. Of course, this will lead to you avoiding activity and thus will continue to snowball and get worse over time.


This can also lead to changes in the cortical mapping in your brain as well. Regardless of who you are, whether you had the lowest grades in school or had the highest ones…you have the potential to make massive changes in your brain. The longer you have pain, the more that this pain can have an impact on the motor portions of your brain creating connections to emotional, memory and other brain centers that will make negative associations. Overall, this will make your pain worse when you are stressed, when you have a negative emotion, and even certain memories can get linked to your pain. Thus, impacting the level of pain you will experience.


#2 – ENJOY LIFE…AND DON’T LET YOUR DIAGNOSIS CONTROL YOU


My grandma was someone who always enjoyed life. She always did something that she always loved to do. She never let anything get in the way of what she wanted to do until her diagnosis took over.


She waited way too long to take care of her horrible knee arthritis and never got it fixed. She never had the knee replacements that she needed 20 or 30+ years ago because of the bad experience one of her relatives had with the same procedure. This decision had such a profound impact on her life for its duration that eventually she became immobile (she became weaker and developed contractions in the joints that prevented mobility). However, even when she became immobile, she still tried to do what she could to enjoy her life to the fullest. She did not let her knees stop her from being happy.


Don't let your diagnosis control you…What that means is just because you have a certain diagnosis does not mean that you will have that diagnosis forever. Having a herniated disc, for example, in your back is not something that you will always have forever. Research has been shown over a 6-8 week period, sometimes even 12 weeks, that you will have some level of if not full recovery of your symptoms because of general healing capacities our body naturally has.

Therefore, making sure you get to the bottom of where your pain is coming from is what's going to be 100% KEY with this because it's not always going to be there. It will hurt for a while and most people with this type of injury will have to take some time to recover. What is key here is to do what you can. Don’t fully rest and wait. Get rid of the spasms and start regaining the strength and stability of your spine in a pain free manner with the appropriate practitioner to help you recover. From there, you will eventually and gradually build yourself back into your activity so that you are able to retrain yourself, retrain your brain, and also get back to your normal life.

#3 – DON’T LOSE HOPE


This is something that is very important! A lot of times people deal with chronic issues, chronic pain, or even something that has been going on and nagging them or whether it is something simple and regularly common as iliotibial band syndrome or ankle sprains. The person continues to have pain. They continue to have issues…but some just get to the point to wear they accept their pain as part of life. How is that any way to live????

They have it, they had it, they still have it. Okay. Now, it's not something that you should always have to live with. It's not something you should always have to think about. I wish and hope for you that It is something you've HAD. It should something to be mindful of, but it's not something that should limit you in your activity or your life on a daily basis. Having something like that always in the back of your brain will always prevent you from being the person that you want to be, and always enjoying the activities that you love to do.

Therefore, not enjoying the life that I mentioned in #2 above, you want to be making sure that you are working with somebody to help you not lose hope. Someone who will sit with you and LISTEN. There are a lot of practitioners out there that will just take things for face value. They see a diagnosis on a prescription, or they just take whatever is on imaging for what it's worth. They'll take whatever they see for face value and they'll just run with it…That's what you have.

It's not the alteration in muscle imbalance that you REALLY have, it's not the you avoidance behavior that you've been exhibiting for a period of time, and it’s not thing that you've been doing for years and years, that's contributed to this and impact it over and over. Something that could be just as common as it sitting at your desk all day. Over time, you've just lost strength in your core or stabilizers of your spine and your hips, which have eventually led to the development of pain. It’s the arthritis that the MD sees on an X-ray THAT NATURALLY OCCURS AS WE AGE…but they won’t tell you that. ADDITIONALLY, they won’t tell you that this is very common and most people that DO have these change DON’T Have OR Live with Life-Long Pain…


It happens every day. It happens all the time. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people that just get given up on either by the clinician #1, #2, or #5 or the patient gives up on themselves. They don’t feel listened to or they don’t feel like they have any answers. I don't stand for that! I believe that everybody has what it takes either themselves or finding the clinician that will help them….I say it all of the time. Everyone is different and therefore everyone needs a different approach. Not the same thing that Mrs. Jones just received an hour ago.


Finding someone who will sit with you and take as much time as is needed to listen to what has been going on in your life and making sure that you are getting the answers that you need. Getting the certainties, the knowledge, and also the tips and tactics that you need in order to get to the point where you want to


Now, will this take time? Yes, it will take time. However, if you allow yourself to gradually progress, over time, you can go from not being able to walk for 20 minutes (you love going for walks) to being able to walk for 5 minutes to 7 minutes to 10 minutes. It’s the small wins that matter most. Even if you wake up in the morning and it takes less time for you to loosen up from the stiffness you have been dealing with. The small changes should be what motivates and helps you get back the life you have always wanted.


We need to make sure that you are getting gradual steps and gradual wins. Because even those little wins help to compound. If any of you are finance people, we know that if you have compounding interest or even interest in general, it will reward you over and over again with larger and larger growth and profits but for you…LIFE!.

#4 – DO WHAT YOU LIKE TO DO


Doing what you like will make your life more fulfilling. When you have a more positive attitude by feeling fulfilled, it will make your pain decrease. Having even just a higher level of education on where your pain is coming from and having an understanding of what your pain means in your life and your activity (without me having to touch you or an exercise) decreases your pain – Just ask Adriaan Louw, leading neuroscience and pain science expert. So...making sure you're getting with someone, making sure you're understanding and not listening to Dr. Google…Because if you go to Dr. Google or Web MD, they'll tell you that you're going to die or have cancer. So, please make sure you're getting the full understanding of what is going on and how to fix it to get back to doing what you love to do.


#5 – DON’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT WHAT PEOPLE THINK

When I say “don’t give a shit about what other people think”, it is in the sense of when a doctor or a clinician tells you that you should never bend down, never lift anything over two pounds, never go to the gym, or never be able to run again. I think that's complete bullshit. Especially, when that clinician never makes eye contact with you in the room, never takes more than five minutes to sit and listen to what has been going on in your life, and how this issue has been affecting your life so severely.


I'm going to let that sink in, because you know, not many clinicians will tell you that…I want you to read this above paragraph again whether you are a clinician reading this or a person who has had this done to you….think about it. Has this ever happened to you…or a loved one…Make sure you as a patient are treated with the respect and presence that you deserve to get the care that you deserve.


How many times have you been told not to do something? Whether it is from a clinician, a doctor, physical therapist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, or even your own family members. We all talk about it. We all see it. We all hear about it. Oh, you're getting too old to do this. Oh, why are you doing this? Why are you killing yourself? Why are you doing this to yourself?


Doing what you love to do is what makes you who you are. It is your IDENTITY! If you love to run, if you love to cycle, if you love to swim, you can do it. It's not something that you can ever not do ever again, but at the same time, getting some results early on and gradually progressing to the goal you wish to achieve is where you need to go.


If you take what a person said to you and you really take it in and you just let it run through your brain, you will change that map in your brain we mentioned earlier (mentally though). Just like I was mentioning in the beginning, you will change how you think which will change how you move which will change how you live your life. You will avoid activities. You will do less and less during the day. You will have more and more pain. As a result of less activity, you will grow weaker, less mobile, and less ability to do what you love to do. Eventually you will be an unhappy, miserable person…THIS is not what I want to have for each and every single one of you who is reading this.

So, don't give a shit about what other people tell you, ESPECIALLY, if it's when it is coming from someone who does not give you 5 minutes of their time or does not know any better. Unless they give you the certain background or a certain understanding that you need to know why you can't do something right now. Just because you have arthritis that is bone on bone does not mean that you can't walk, it does not mean that you can't squat (sit down in a chair or on the toilet), and it certainly does not mean that you can't bend your knee.


Can an injury or a condition such as knee arthritis be something that may limit you to some degree, yes. However, at the same time, there are ways to get around it. Are you always going to have back pain? No. Is there something you can always do to help improve it? 100%!!! So…take everything with a grain of salt, make sure you educate yourself, and make sure you understand where things are coming from.


Make sure you're working with someone who can give you the primary cause and the ABCs of why this is happening to you. Have them work with you to do whatever it takes, getting you back to where you want to be.


I hope this has helped you in some way, shape, or form. If it has helped you or if you have any questions please feel free to reach out. Please feel free to check out my website (www.ascentptny.com) or email me directly at rberghorn@ascentphysicaltherapyny.com with any questions or stories you may have. I am always willing to assist in any way I can. I want to give you the answers and education you need to make the best decision about your health. I hope you enjoyed this post and I look forward to seeing you in the next one.


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