Explaining Context

When people ask “why does it hurt?” I’ll get around to stating that “… also, context of [your pain] is a factor in how it feels.”

Now this may make sense to you, the PTBT audience, but this is often not an idea that people have thought of. Most people only remember a politician saying his/her words were “taken out of context” so it may be important to explain context.

Here are two quick context stories I tell. Please use them, please make them your own…

spooky-forrest

1.) Context example… “So now let’s say you are walking in a spooky forest, it’s dark out, you’re by yourself, a bit creeped out and you feel this on your shoulder (lightly tickle the skin), what would your reaction be?” Often a patient will exaggerate looking back quickly or state “I would jump, think it was a spider or something”, etc. Continue reading

If a Tree Falls in the Forest

tree-falling

If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Ah yes, a classic riddle indeed and one I will answer. No. It does not make a sound. Let’s explore this, and how it relates to understanding pain and sensation.

First we will define a sound. The English Oxford dictionary defines it as “Vibrations that travel through the air or another medium and can be heard when they reach a person’s or animal’s ear.”  You need both waves and an ear to complete the “hear.” So in our above riddle, there is no hear of the sound due to there being no person’s ear in the riddle, as it is in the definition. Continue reading

Pain Education

Allow me to make the case to discuss modern* pain science views with all who will listen, importantly, people who are NOT in pain.

There seems to be support for pre-operative pain education as an effective intervention. Studies have shown improved surgical experience and reduced health care utilization (1), improved short term pain reporting, quicker return to activities and utilization of nonpharmalogical pain management strategies (2). Long term pain outcomes are not significantly effected (that I could find), but it certainly helps the patient in meaningful way (3). Continue reading

Time

Time lapse ptbraintrust

Enter a caption

There is no such thing as Time Management. There is only Self Management, time goes on as it will, no matter your intentions for it.

So what can happen over time? Time is one of these factors that is hard to account for, but does a lot of the treating of a patient for you. (see: It’s not ALL about you).  The biology of tissue healing occurs over a timeline and it occurs at a pace that is affected, but not determined, by us or your patient. Continue reading

Pain is like the Wind

Pain is like the wind.

It can only be viewed by its interface with the environment. 

We see the trees move, the leaves rustle, the flower petals quiver. We see the thick dust in the air, the yard furniture toppling in a pile by the fence, the branches dropping to the street.

Our skin turns alive with an unseen pressure. We are urged to move to the left by an unseen force from the right. It blew my hat off.

“I cannot take a picture of the wind. I can show you a picture of a windy day… but not the wind.” Continue reading

On the subjective nature of pain

Image Credit: "Inverted qualia of colour strawberry" by made by Was a bee. - Original strawberry's image is from Image:Fragaria_Fruit_Close-up.jpg uploaded by User:FoeNyx,and original man's image is from Image:Munemitsu Mutsu 2.jpg uploaded by User:Ueda.H,and I User:Was a bee combined it in one image.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Inverted_qualia_of_colour_strawberry.jpg#/media/File:Inverted_qualia_of_colour_strawberry.jpg

Image Credit: “Inverted qualia of colour strawberry” by made by Was a bee. – Original strawberry’s image is from Image:Fragaria_Fruit_Close-up.jpg uploaded by User:FoeNyx,and original man’s image is from Image:Munemitsu Mutsu 2.jpg uploaded by User:Ueda.H,and I User:Was a bee combined it in one image.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Inverted_qualia_of_colour_strawberry.jpg#/media/File:Inverted_qualia_of_colour_strawberry.jpg

Some things in life are definite. Some are definitely not. And some are somewhere in between.

Same goes in healthcare and medicine. When you see a hyperactive deep tendon reflex or produce an upper motor neuron sign via Babinski or Hoffmann’s, its pretty obvious. Usually, there isn’t much debate about its existence. There may be some back and forth about the degree to which it exists or to its implications; but, again, most parties will agree “that just happened.”

Same goes for an infected wound. One look, maybe one smell, most people can agree about the degree of bacterial colonization (i.e. infection or no). We can take this further with abnormal heart sounds, clubbing of the digits (indicative of lung/heart disease), or yellowing of the sclera indicating jaundice. The list can go on, but it doesn’t need to. There are a host of objective signs that indicate the presence of disease or pathology. We can even go further with laboratory diagnostics and imaging studies to attempt to confirm or rule out suspicions about the presence of a disease processes.

We have quite a body of information and resources at our disposal when trying to figure out what is wrong with the patient sitting before us. Even more than that, we have gained enough knowledge to decipher and utilize people’s reported symptoms, their subjective report, to aid in this process. As fraught with bias and inaccuracy as an individual’s own perception of their situation could be, we still have found ways to weed through the minutiae and find bits of key detail that aid in the diagnostic process. It could be how long their symptoms have been present, or what activities exacerbate their symptoms. You might ask, “Do you have any popping or clicking? Or feelings of instability?” Or if the patient reports numbness or tingling in a certain area. All of these details paint a little more of the broad picture of the patient’s condition. And one of the most helpful details when painting that picture Continue reading

Does the weather make pain worse?

People say it all the time: “Oh, it’s gonna rain, I can tell in my knee” or “My knees really hurt over the weekend… they do that with bad weather.” What is it with these magical knees? From my personal vantage point, there is no logic to this… it’s simply psychological mis-attribution of causes… but it is heard so often, is there something to it?

Well, I asked on Twitter and fully enjoyed the convos that occurred…

Matt Dancigers Twitter convo weather

So here is a summary of what was shared: Continue reading

Lost in Translation

In reading Spencer’s recent posts (particularly Part 2, but also Part 1) I am struck by an interesting theme.  The information was there. It was just somehow interpreted wrong and dispersed wrong, or received wrong… like a game of telephone.

Spencer mentions that the IASP definition of pain “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage” is clearly presented in education. Since it is there all along… how does it get lost in translation? Can we blame the Continue reading

The Crossroads of Philosophy and Physiology (Part 2): Where We Missed the Mark on Pain Education.

 

college-classroom

And you’d be surprised… the answer goes further back than you might think.

So if you read Part 1, we left with a series of questions — all boiling around the conundrum of what I will call “the pain education lag.” This can be defined as the time it takes for the education to take an effect (i.e. reduction of aberrant pain). Essentially, you provide a treatment, but it’s possible for no effect to be seen immediately (and its also highly likely for this to occur in such a delayed fashion). And this is something that is significant. Other treatment effects take place immediately. Yet, with pain education Continue reading