On the surface, that seems like a ridiculous statement. In a lot of ways our culture is taught to embrace the exact opposite of this. Pain is bad. It is a symptom. When you have a symptom, you are unwell, and therefore you are well when your symptom goes away. But is that really true?
Pain is not pleasant. I get that. But it serves a purpose. All symptoms do. And simply removing a symptom does not necessarily make one healthier.
Obvious examples can include things like fever or vomiting. The increased temperature will slow the bacteria and virus and make them more susceptible to getting killed by the immune system. Decreasing the fever actually works against the body’s attempt to heal. Vomiting is similar in that it is an attempt to eliminate a toxin from the body. Stopping that process prematurely could allow it to fester, and stay unhealthy.
What purpose could it serve? Doesn’t it just hurt?
Why would the body be designed that way. Whether you believe it was created or it evolved, what would be the point of hurting to no purpose? No, pain tells us where the problem might be, and what actions we’re taking to create it. It can also tell us how bad a situation is.
Let’s take the example of a sprained ankle. The most common is the inversion sprain, where the foot moves inward, damaging the ligaments on the outer edge of the ankle. The response of the body is to create swelling and pain in the area. I’ve dealt with the swelling components of inflammation in another article I’ve written, so let’s just talk about pain. It hurts when you stress the damaged tissue. It’s letting you know that the movement you’re doing is causing potential further damage to already injured tissue. So stop it!
If it hurts don’t do it!
It’s really that simple. When you hurt, the body is warning you against whatever action you’re taking. The common response in our society is to take something to alleviate the symptom. Ibuprofen and Tylenol are the most common culprits. But that pain tells you a lot about what’s going on. Is your pain the result of sitting for too long in the same position at work? Is it because you worked out hard in the gym? Is it because you worked out so hard you actually injured yourself? You won’t know if you just numb the pain away.
You take away valuable information when you rob yourself of your pain. As I’ve said, it is a useful tool that you can utilize to improve your health. By using symptoms to guide you away from injurious activities and promoting those that help you get better, it can speed your recovery.
What is your pain telling you? Do you need some help deciphering it? That’s what we do.