Have you ever been asked the question ‘when did you first feel that pain?’ It is a question I regularly ask my patients at their initial physiotherapy appointment and as they are given time to think about it they are often surprised by their own answer.
For example, a man about to have knee replacement surgery replies ‘Ah, I think it began with an old football injury in my 20’s, then suddenly remembers as a child of 6 years old, falling off his bike and hurting that same knee as he tried to keep up with his brother, then injuring it again when sledging in his early teens.
A woman being admitted for back surgery reports decades of worsening back problems with flare ups being followed by periods of remission, with these periods becoming shorter and shorter whilst her back pain talked louder and louder. As she considers her pain, she realises that it all began earlier than she first thought. When she was embarrassed by her height as a young teenager she tried to make herself smaller by hunching her back, then carried this pattern into adulthood. She recalled the pain in her body at the time she was holding herself in this way was similar to how she felt now.
It is interesting to trace back our aches and pains to their origin, as they can hold the key to why we are still in pain. Asking ourselves, if we have a pain that comes and goes what first brought it on? What were we doing and how were we feeling at the time? Are there similarities to how we are feeling this time, both emotionally and physically and in how we are choosing to move?
Could it be that these initial injuries and pains are in fact early warning signals that our body and even our emotions are out of balance and require support to reintegrate so that similar episodes of pain or trauma are avoided?
Taking time to consider our own body and just how much it communicates with us on a moment-to-moment basis is valuable medicine itself. Whether it is acknowledging the pain or stiffness or appreciating the vitality and flow in our bodies, there is always a message on offer.
And it is never too late to connect to our body in a more caring way and break those old patterns that keep us in an ever increasing loop of pain and discomfort and instead support ourselves towards a body that is lighter, more balanced and moves with ease within the world.