Posts Tagged ‘acute pain’

Pain – Neuroplasticity and Sports Injuries

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

Have you heard of the term neuroplasticity and wondered what it means? No, our brains are not made of plastic. However, it does refer to the neural pathways in our brains can be as malleable as plastic allowing our brain to adapt to different circumstances. This means that each signal that enters our brain follows a particular pathway. This pathway can be altered by a change in behaviour.

Recently there has been several case studies to confirm the suggestion that chronic pain is not so much a true indication of current pain but that neural pathways have been developed in the brain to re-affirm the original pain that was experienced. Therefore, the pain which we perceive as chronic pain is not a true indication of anatomical pain but a memory of past pain experienced. Neuroplasticity suggests that neural pathway that has developed can be altered via different input.

There have been several cases which have successfully abated their chronic pain to minimal or none ultimately changing their lives. This has been achieved via activating the neural pathway pattern and flooding the brain with another sensory input. This in turn allows an alternative neural pathway to develop. Each time the new neural pathway is reinforced allows for the new pathway to develop and the old pathway (of pain) decreases in strength and slowly dissipates. Literally turning the old statement of if you don’t use it you lose it to an advantage!

Alternate sensory input may be light or sound. That is, by flooding the neural pathway with another direction to go in each time chronic pain is experienced stimulates new neurons to develop. If this new neuron pathway is reinforced regularly throughout the day the experience of pain has been reported to significantly reduce over a 6 week period.

Chronic pain is usually associated with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis or other degenerative conditions. However, chronic pain is actually classified after 3 months of experiencing pain in the same region consistently. Therefore this includes sports injuries which are often exacerbated by repetitive movements or sitting stationary for long periods of time (often work related). When this starts to happen reactive muscles can be a factor.

Reactive muscles is the concept of when one muscle is switched on it essentially bullies other muscles that switch off i.e. muscles are reactive towards one another as opposed to firing when appropriate. Reactive muscles can create dysfunctional movement patterns when the body moves. When this is done repetitively it can be reinforced and put strain on muscles which can lead to events causing injury. Upon injury acute inflammation and pain is experienced which is the body’s warning system to rest that area. However, when the acute inflammation dies down is a crucial stage to change the reactive pattern of muscles before the neuronal network of ‘pain’ is laid down and reinforced altering the way the body moves. This pattern can start to reinforce itself in a negative way.

By switching off the reactive muscles allows for any neuronal networks for ‘pain’ to not be reinforced thus reducing the experience of pain. This can be done by kinesiology. Essentially kinesiology identifies and activates a negative neuronal pathway, floods it with a positive stimulus allowing a new neuronal pathway to form i.e. neuroplasticity.