Total Health

Why does pain go away and come back?

February 4th, 2021 by
Category: Health & Wellbeing Pain

Woman reaching hand to a spot that is causing discomfort in upper back

Have you been experiencing ongoing back pain that has been going away then coming back again? Well this is a common occurrence because your body is compensating and adapting to physical and repetitive stresses. 

Patterns of compensation can develop for many reasons. This can be due to previous injuries, daily activities or repetitive stressors, such as repeated heavy lifting, poor posture or carrying heavy loads. Your body compensates for the lack of movement in one area by adding a new movement. Compensation and adapting to physical stresses happens over time. 

For example, if you have low back pain on the right hand side of your body. Your body does not want to further aggravate that area, therefore you may start to lean towards the left hand side more to avoid putting any further pressure on it. You may also start to notice that the muscles become more tight on the right due to the pulling across to the left and side and joints become stiffer. 

The muscles in your body will create new patterns, causing these muscles to work incorrectly and therefore, pain may intensify or persist. This forms compensation patterns in your body to try decrease the pain. This is like a domino effect, where the pain will continue to come back when your body keeps trying to compensate for not addressing the source of the pain. 

It can also be due to posture. If you are sitting in front of a computer, driving or standing for a long period of time, you might notice a lot of pressure and pain in your neck, middle back and lower back from your body being in a hunched like position. Therefore, the pain in your back continues to reoccur because of your posture that you have adapted overtime and has not been corrected.

Not addressing the source of the pain can influence the recurrence of pain. There are many reasons as to why the pain has been brought on such as, poor posture, repetitive stressors, underlying health conditions and pre-existing injuries.

What can be done about it?

There are a number of things that can be done, including –

  • Seeking medical advice early. Seeking medical advice early can decrease the likelihood of any further injuries occurring, as well as preventing the worsening of pain.
  • Getting regular spinal health checks from a Chiropractor can help minimise the chances of recurring back pain. Like going to the dentist for regular check up and cleans prevents tooth decay, it is important to get your spinal health checked. 
  • Not ignoring early signs such as those niggles or stiffness felt in your back.  Starting early care can potentially help correct the underlying issue/cause faster than waiting too long. 
  • It is important to address the underlying cause of the pain, because the location of where the pain is felt might not necessarily be the source of the pain. Therefore, getting to the cause of the pain may help the pain not come back as often or even at all.

When should you seek medical advice?

You should seek medical advice when you experience the following signs and symptoms: 

  • Numbness, tingling, sharp or shooting pain down your arms or legs 
  • Persistent pain lasting more than 3 months 
  • Pain progressively getting worse 
  • Pain increasing in intensity, duration and frequency 
  • Persistent pain that is not relieved by rest 
  • Suddenly waking you up at night 
  • Sudden changes to bowel or bladder

If you are not getting to the underlying cause of the pain or recognising the patterns of compensation, it can increase the risk of injury and damage to the body. Therefore, the pain may continue to come back and go away repeatedly. The longer we wait to get care, the longer it will take for the body to heal. The best thing that you can do to prevent pain from coming back all the time is to seek professional medical advice as soon as possible.

Article written by Dr. Mymy Quach (Chiropractor)


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