Pushing Through Pain: Is it a Myth?

Always Listen to Your Body

Pain is an interesting thing that most people will experience at one time or another during their lifetime. There are many different types of pain, both chronic and acute. When it comes to pain, it can be challenging to know where the limit is. Because we are all unique beings, everyone experiences pain differently. But there are specific markers in place that help us assess pain and what the right course of action is.

Texas Partners Healthcare Group is a pain management clinic in Frisco specializing in regenerative medicine. We strive to educate our patients about what options are out there to help manage pain other than surgery and pain medications. In recent years, especially, we have learned just how dangerous narcotics are, as hundreds of thousands of Americans have died as a result. The more aware we become to the addictive nature of pain medications and how easy they are to abuse, the greater the ability we have to treat chronic pain conditions safely. It comes as no surprise that regenerative medicine is becoming mainstream and a staple in many people’s pain management regimen.

The above leads us to today’s topic: when is it pushing through pain a good idea? This is a question we often receive here at our pain management clinic in Frisco. How often do you see professional athletes suffer an inevitably painful injury, only to hobble back on the field and “play through”? Unfortunately, this often does far more damage than you may think. Whether you are experiencing pain from an intense workout or recovery from an injury, there’s a time to rest and a time to push on.

How is Pain Defined?

Before we can look at whether ignoring the pain and pushing through pain is a myth or not, it’s essential to define pain:

“Pain is an unpleasant sensation that can range from mild, localized discomfort to agony. It has both physical and emotional components. The physical part of pain results from nerve stimulation. Pain may be contained to a discrete area, as in an injury, or it can be more diffuse, as in disorders like fibromyalgia.”

Coming from the Latin term “poena,” which means a penalty, pain is universal. However, it shows up differently in each person, making it challenging to describe and, often, relate to. Lastly, you must understand the difference between discomfort and pain. While some people may have a lower threshold for pain than others, discomfort is not pain, and vice versa. Understanding this important distinction is a must for you to know when it is ok to push through the pain and when it’s time to listen to your body.

What the Research Says

“Running is 95 percent mental.” If you are a runner, this may be a statement you agree with. But what is it saying? According to research, there are physiological aspects of preparing for a big competition or triathlon that can trick the brain into telling the body it’s in pain when there is no physical evidence of that. But this can be extremely dangerous. Extreme athletes relay stories of pushing through pain with a “do or die” attitude and physical injuries they didn’t even realize they had, thanks to mentally training the brain to ignore pain. Imagine running a triathlon without realizing you had torn both Achilles’ tendons? It happens far too often.

This is why the line between discomfort and pain can be so fuzzy.  Experts agree that a low level of soreness is acceptable to push through, but you should NEVER keep going if you are experiencing actual pain.

Chronic Pain and Exercise

For chronic pain sufferers, things are a little more complicated. If you are experiencing chronic pain while healing from an injury or because of an underlying condition, there’s a good chance you are avoiding exercise. Unlike acute pain, which is typically caused by tissue damage, chronic pain is often the result of a sensitive nervous system. Chronic pain patients may be inclined to avoid activity to reduce the risk of pain flare-up, but some light exercise may be beneficial. Physical therapy, yoga, and other therapies are great, safe options that may decrease pain and help you get back on your feet.

Pain Management Tips

Thanks in large part to advancements in regenerative medicine and pain management overall, we can now provide patients with the relief they’ve always sought, using stem cell therapy, ketamine infusions, nerve block injections, and other alternative therapies.

Here are a few pain management tips to consider while working out or if you are living with chronic pain:

  • Exercise a little bit every day
  • Always talk to a doctor before starting an exercise program
  • Know your limits
  • Start slowly with gentle stretching
  • Go at your own pace
  • Be patient and don’t try to do too much at once
  • Don’t compare yourself to others
  • Aim for a balanced routine that includes cardiovascular (walking is a great example), strengthening, and stretching

If you experience any burning, stabbing, or sharp pain or notice any joint discomfort or structural changes, stop what you’re doing immediately. This could indicate a severe injury that could cause irreparable damage if left untreated, so there is no need for pushing through pain.

For those interested in learning more about pain management in Frisco, please do not hesitate to contact Texas Partners Healthcare Group. If you are experiencing pain of any kind and you are unsure of the cause, we encourage you to stop what you are doing and make an appointment. As discussed above, there are certain times when it may be ok to forge ahead when the body is in pain, but more often than not, it is important to know when enough is enough. We can help you find the root cause of your pain and will work with you to create a pain management plan that will work for you in the coming year.