With any injury, regardless of what tissue is injured, there will be pain sensitisation. This is where we become more sensitive to touch. We’ve all experienced it, just think of the last time you stood on a plug or hit your thumb with a hammer. It’s called primary hyperalgesia and that sensitivity is completely normal. However, in some cases, the sensitivity might start to spread, known as secondary hyperalgesia. Unfortunately, secondary hyperalgesia is less welcome. It means that the nervous system has started to adapt to pain. Making you feel more pain, for less reason. When this happens areas far from the initial injury can start hurt.
As a chiropractor, I use to test how severe the injury is and how likely recovery will be. For example, if you have low back pain and only your low back is sensitive to touch, there’s an excellent chance for a quick recovery. However, if we find the sensitivity has spread to the rest of your back and your legs, then recovery will likely take longer.
I often can learn this from someone history. “It started with shoulder pain, and then my arm started to hurt, but now everything hurts.”
The good news is that chronic pain and hyperalgesia can get better! Research has shown that when the painful stimulus is removed, hypersensitivity can rapidly improve (Schneider et al. 2010). The goal is to find the original source of the pain and treat it. A bit like vampires, when the original source is removed the rest will also go.
Are you living with chronic pain? We’re here for you. Our chiropractic clinic in Woking is focused on helping people with chronic pain and dizziness. Book your free screening to find out if we can help.
Staud, R., Weyl, E. E., Price, D. D., & Robinson, M. E. (2012). Mechanical and heat hyperalgesia highly predict clinical pain intensity in patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain syndromes. The journal of pain : official journal of the American Pain Society, 13(8), 725–735. doi:10.1016/j.jpain.
Schneider GM, Smith AD, Hooper A, Stratford P, Schneider KJ, Westaway MD, Frizzell B, Olson L. Minimizing the source of nociception and its concurrent effect on sensory hypersensitivity: an exploratory study in chronic whiplash patients. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2010 Feb 9;11:29. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-11-29.