Pain Does Not Always Mean Inflammation
By Dr. Mitchell Yass – Stop the Pain, I Want My Life Back
It seems that the medical establishment has tried to convince you that if you are having pain, it must be coming from inflammation. Look at the typical diagnoses given for pain at joints; arthritis, tendinitis, bursitis. The “itis” portion of these words represents the idea that there is inflammation of these tissues. Look at the commercials for medications for joint pain. Celebrex promotes that it is effective for arthritis pain. Advil, Motrin, Tylenol and Aleve all battle which is better for arthritis pain or inflammation of joints. Thermacare has gotten into the game and promotes its hot packs are better for arthritis pain then the medications are. Shaq pushes patches and then there is Bengay and Tiger balm.
What is a person to do? With your doctors promoting the idea that pain equals inflammation and all the commercials for products designed to resolve pain due to inflammation, you have to believe that pain always represents inflammation. Well here is your wake up call. Here is a lesson in pain and inflammation. After reading this article you will be able to tell when pain is associated with inflammation and when it is not. If it is not, treating the pain for inflammation will appear as futile as it really is.
Let’s get started. What is inflammation and the inflammatory response? When the body is threatened systemically such as a virus or bacteria entering or mechanically such as a strain or a contusion, the body identifies that some sort of healing must occur. This triggers the inflammatory response. Blood is sent to the area of injury and within blood are the white blood cells that are designed to protect and heal the body. With this understanding, three main symptoms will be apparent. Due to the rush of blood to an area of injury, heat will be present, swelling will be present and pain. The heat or temperature is due to the fact that blood is warm. With the increase of blood in the area of injury, the area of injury will have an increased temperature. Swelling is present because blood has rushed into the area. Pain is present because the increased blood in the area has caused more tissue to be in the area than is typically there. This causes the pain receptors in surrounding tissues to ignite. Examples of an inflammatory response are a pimple (hot, swollen and painful), the flu (temperature, swelling and body aches), a contusion (hot, swollen and painful) or an ankle sprain (swollen, hot and painful).
Are there situations when you can have pain and it not be due to inflammation? A kidney stone, eating bad fish or something as simple as a pinch are examples of this. In these circumstances, there is no swelling or heat/temperature. The pain is experienced because the tissue is in distress and it is sending a signal to the brain to identify that an intervention is necessary to resolve the distress. Joint pain can be categorized like these situations. In the majority of cases that I have treated where there was joint pain, there was no swelling or heat/temperature experienced. If all three symptoms are not present, there is no way that it can be concluded that an inflammatory response is the cause of the pain. I have proven that in most of these cases the pain at the joint is due to a muscle weakness or imbalance causing the joint surfaces to rub abnormally. This creates abnormal irritation and pain at the joint. Resolution of pain of this nature comes from correcting the muscle weakness or imbalance; not by taking an anti-inflammatory.
It is time for people to become their own advocates. It is sad but just because a physician tells you something, doesn’t make it true. The facts tell you what is true or not. I have presented the facts about pain to you. Now it is up to you to determine when pain is pain and when pain is due to inflammation.
Mitchell Yass, DPT is the "Miracle Man" among Long Island physical therapists and now Boca Raton, Florida. With more than 18 years in practice, he has helped thousands of patients avoid surgery, eliminate chronic pain and lose weight. Patients travel from multiple states and even from abroad to seek out his unique brand of physical therapy, which makes use of targeted strength training and an intricate knowledge of how to determine the true cause of pain.