How to Manage Acute Onset Pain | Kelly Starrett, DPT
Everyone’s individual perception of pain is very specific to their own feelings and tolerance levels. Therefore a “10 out of 10” on the pain scale for one person, might be a “2 out of 10” for another. Dr. Kelly Starrett, DPT of The Ready State explains a simple way to combat acute onset pain no matter where you register on the pain scale. Any level of pain can be a huge interference in day-to-day life, so Kelly explains how an electrotherapy modality like H-Wave can truly help.
When we’re in pain, we may be able to “manage” the pain sensations during the day since most movement can be a natural distraction. However, when we lay down at night, we’re eliminating the distraction that naturally comes with everyday movement, which causes a flood of pain signals to the brain.
The first way to combat this with the H-Wave is to shut down those pain signals using the High Frequency mode. This mode gives us the opportunity to block some of those pain signals to the brain by providing on-demand pain relief that doesn’t disrupt the natural connection between the brain and the body.
Compared to other more traditional methods like icing, which can give us pain relief by numbing and/or blocking the sensory signals between body and brain. The problem is that when that numbing stops, ie: you take the ice off of the affected area, then the brain can get flooded back with that sensory surge of pain.
Additionally, with icing you can’t get any movement into the system. With any injury, you want to load the tissue in a non-threatening way and get movement into the system as quickly as possible. This helps restore how the brain is perceiving movement within the body as non-threatening; allowing you to relax the tissues around the affected area and not be fearful of movement due to pain. What the H-Wave high frequency is doing is ultimately altering how the brain is perceiving pain and movement at the tissue level.
Once you’ve stopped the immediate flood of pain signals to the brain with the on-demand relief that high frequency provides, you can enable the Low Frequency mode of H-Wave to help create movement without motion.
Since we’ve interrupted that “lock-down” effect that your body can go into when it senses pain, we can now restore movement using the low frequency setting. This mode creates non-tetanizing micro muscle contractions in order to increase blood circulation and decrease congestion around the painful area; thus, creating the benefits of movement without actually having to move.
As always, the goal with acute onset pain is to get movement into tissues and restore motion as quickly as possible so the brain can start to relax, knowing that there isn’t a painful sensation preventing movement happening.
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