As we continue to learn about the complexity of pain, I have observed many refer to this as a “movement”. I have also observed many refer to those who are sharing the knowledge a “camp”. But as we begin to gain a better understanding of neurophysiology and the human experience, should we refer to this understanding as a movement or a camp? Well let me answer that bluntly. No.
Around this time last year, we saw researchers announce the discovery of a “new” knee ligament (published in Anatomy). While this information quickly spread across social media, I saw practitioners actively engaged in exciting discussion. It appeared (empirically) that many had a very easy time accepting this new anatomical reference. But at this same time, I continued to observe (and engage) in debate and discussions regarding our evolving understanding of the physiology of pain. From this, I hypothesized it must be easier to accept an objective anatomical observation (visually inspecting a tangible new ligament—even though many of us have yet to “see” it) vs. a subjective physiological observation (understanding a non-tangible process).
While this may or may not hold weight, the hypothesis is likely a partial reason why we are spending 600+ billion dollars per year in the management of pain. We do a really great job at getting a stiff joint to move, or getting a weak muscle strong, but often get frustrated when pain is a limiting factor. We like to visualize and see progress, and when a subjective experience is limiting this progress, we tend to use words like “difficult” or “unresponsive”. But what if the patient can’t even imagine themselves moving something, because of a smudge? Is it the patient who is difficult? Or is it a void in our understanding of a complex process?
I suspect we all need to attempt to challenge ourselves in understanding the processes which we cannot see. We must stay current with physiological references because our understanding is changing.
I wouldn’t call pain science a “movement”. I wouldn’t call pain science a “camp”. I would call it a subset of modern neurophysiology. Pain science is just as much of a camp or movement, as anatomy.
– Joe B
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Categories: Critical Thinking