I can’t ‘fix’ your back or your pain…
8. This probably sounds pretty funny coming from an osteopath, and it may make you think that I’m not a very good osteopath but on the contrary… I am a very experienced osteopath who is simply being honest about what actually happens when our bodies recover from pain and injury, and what happens when we as therapists, try to reduce people’s pain. The truth is though, only your body can heal itself and only your nervous system can deescalate it’s level of protection – we merely facilitate. Disappointing but true.
So now you’re probably wondering why you’d come see me at all if I can’t fix you… but bear with me, there is much I can do to help you get better!
The first thing I have to work out when you come to see me is – is there and actual tissue injury or is there pain despite the tissues being uninjured or adequately recovered from injury already?
When you have an injury with actual tissue damage I can only really help to make you temporarily more comfortable, and to try to remove any physiological barriers to healing. I will also help to ensure that you understand the injury and how to engage with it in ways that will promote a faster and fuller recovery. As your tissues heal, your nervous system will naturally become less sensitive and protective and your pain will dissipate.
If there is no injury or it’s actually recovered and you still have pain from a persistently sensitive and protective nervous system – there are still a heap of things I can do! Some of these things are hands on treatments for the nerves themselves, these are from the patient perspective, much like the joint movements and muscle massages you’d expect from an osteo. The others are again about helping you understand the nature of your pain and how to engage with it in ways that will promote a faster and fuller recovery. The nervous systems typical set point is to have no pain and we just need to work toward re-setting your set point.
Either way, there will be much to do. I will be removing barriers to recovery and you will be doing the actual work of fixing yourself. That may not be the scenario you were hoping for but that’s just how it works.
Stay tuned for the next and last installment and I’ll round the series off with what we know actually works.