"I’m in pain. Does that mean something is wrong?"
I have this conversation with clients and anyone going through pain all the time so I figured I should write about it.
Here’s deal…You can put someone under an MRI or X-Ray and see that something is structurally wrong. This person can experience no symptoms of pain. Put another person in an MRI and X-Ray and nothing is structurally wrong, but this person is experiencing a good deal of pain every day. You could also see examples of structural pathology synonymous with pain and vice versa.
So, this basically tells us that we don’t understand pain in relation to physiology super well.
What can we do?
I often tell people that it’s impossible to fully understand what is causing pain in most cases. Spraining your ankle and feeling pain afterwards is a lot more straightforward than the random onset of elbow pain. Especially when there are a lot of variables involved.
First order of business would be to chose interventions that don’t cause a lot of pain, and reassess every so often and see if the pain is there. You can also try to find exercises that bias an increase in motion and see if that helps suddenly and/or long-term.
You can also pick surgery. There is no guarantee that this will help, because as I said before, it’s hard to fully understand pain in relation to structure.
At the end of the day I am not a doctor. If your bone is sticking out of your skin you probably want to get that fixed. All I am saying is your bulged disc or spinal asymmetry isn’t as straightforward. I’m willing to place a bet that if 90%+ of humans got an X-Ray today, you would see spinal asymmetry. No spine is perfectly straight. Your guts aren’t even weighted symmetrically in your stomach, bro.
Beware of the snake oil salesmen that uses your structural pathology as a means for you to keep giving them money.