Injury Management and Pain Pathways

Over a decade ago, I fell and experienced a pretty painful pelvic injury. It took a while to pinpoint and solve the root cause, but with the help of a great chiropractor, I got there.

After the first year of regular adjustments, I started learning what kept my body feeling fine, and when I had pain, what the likely causes were. Riding my bike regularly was an activity that helped keep things in check, but when I was having a flare-up, occasionally I would get off my bike and not be able to stand up straight. (This is one of the many ways in which my custom-built Sweetpea has been fantastic—riding ill-fitting frames in the past regularly exacerbated the injury.)

One of the last couple of times I visited Darah (my chiropractor), she looked at my leg lengths and said I was basically doing fine. I wondered whether the pain may be related to PMS and she told me about how chronic injuries sometimes exhibit a type of phantom pain. If anything gets irritated in the general vicinity of the original injury (or anywhere along the original pain pathway), the nerves jump to their familiar response, and the brain will read it as that old injury acting up again. This past week I’ve been having knee and leg pain, which seems to migrate on a daily basis, and I suspect it may be my body yet again misinterpreting what is actually going on inside.

It also seems that non-physical pain may have the same properties. Over the same week I’ve also been a bit anguished in my head. It seems like maybe whenever I am feeling down about anything, my brain is now trained to go to a fairly specific place that has caused me much grief. A place it has been trying to figure out for a very long time. No answers have come, and no answers will likely ever come. Most of the time it’s fine, but when I’m extra tired, down because the holidays have been a bummer, bored, or something else—my brain starts in with the familiar response. It started with a similar localized jolt like the pelvis injury, and likewise, the effects have had far-reaching reverberations.

Our bodies and minds are shaped by blunt force trauma. Just as our muscle memory ensures we will always remember how to ride a bike, we are also forever shaped by our injuries. Grappling with an injury long-term involves learning how to live with that injury—acknowledging it, accepting it, and doing what is needed to take care of it. We move forward the best we can. Carefully and mindfully.

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