What You Should Know About Pain: Part 1

What You Should Know About Pain is part 1 of a 3 part series, in a collaboration with Dr. Zak Gabor designed to challenge your current understanding of pain.  This is ground zero. Once your current understanding of pain is established, you can then begin to reconcepsulize pain, and then begin to combat pain. This will be a three part series, with reconceptualizing pain being part two, and combating pain being part three.  

On a daily basis, both Zak and I see people with pain ranging from acute injuries such as surgeries and breaks to chronic pain that has been lingering around for years.

What we have found to be a commonality is that people with pain don't know a thing about it.  Most patients who walk in the door underestimate their injury and what the recovery process is really like.

Ask yourselves this, when was the last time your MD spoke to you about pain, or was honest with you about how long recovery might take?  Secondly, when was the last time any other health care provider has (physical therapist, chiropractor, massage therapist)?  

Understanding pain is one of the most important lessons someone can get to help them combat pain and make (how about: achieve) a full recovery.

So, WTF is pain?

Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.

Since the goal of this post is to challenge your current understanding of pain, let us leave you with a couple of questions; in which we will start to answer in the upcoming posts of this series.

If structural damage to your body was the only cause of pain, why do people have such difficulties recovering from surgery after the underlying “injury” was corrected?

If two people have the same diagnosis on an MRI, why would one of them potentially have pain, and the other one not?

These are just a couple of questions that should have you questioning what pain really is, especially through an “issue in the tissue” lens.

Consider these two examples as well.

  1. You are a defender in the world cup, you just let the offensive player by you, scoring the game winning goal.  During the process, you broke your leg.
  2. You are an offensive player in the world cup, you just scored the game winning goal. During the process, you broke you leg.

Let me ask you this, which player has more pain?

  1. You are on the sidewalk, you step into a large enough crack to roll your ankle.

  2. You are in the middle of the road, you step into a large enough crack to roll you ankle, but a truck is coming towards you, almost hitting you.

Who do you think feels more ankle pain?  Does situation two even feel ankle pain?

These last two examples challenge the fact that pain is a multifactorial process, in which things such as emotion or context can affect the way you experience pain. 


We hope that by exploring these examples, you can start to challenge your current understanding of pain. You can start to see how pain is an experience, aka an output.  In the next post, we will discuss the basics of pain science, and how to begin reconceptualizing.

Move Well, Stay Strong

About Dr. Zak Gabor
Dr. Zak Gabor is a 2015 graduate from Ithaca College where he earned his Doctorate of Physical Therapy. Prior to that, he earned his Bachelor of Clinical Health Science degree from Ithaca College in 2013. Zak is also a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength & Conditioning Association (NSCA), and a Sports Performance Coach through USA Weightlifting (USAW).
Follow him on IG/FB/Twitter @SimpleStrengthPhysio