How you can achieve lasting pain relief

Any painful motion has 3 components to consider:

  1. What’s being compressed?

  2. What’s being stretched?

  3. What’s being contracted?

Any step avoided, misunderstood, or overlooked will result in ineffective results.

This is a concept taught by Dr William Brady of Integrative Diagnosis. Everyone wants lasting pain relief. Not many people know how complicated that can be. Fewer people know that most providers aren’t trained at doing this. Even fewer people realize that insurance companies attempt to get in the way of your progress and don’t pay for critical thinking.

So back to our original list. Let’s go into more detail.

When we’re talking about something being COMPRESSED it can be any tissue or joint in the body. For example, if you’re sitting right now reading this your sciatic nerves are being compressed against your buttocks. The intervertebral discs in your spine are being compressed more than when your standing—especially if you’re slouching. The longer something is being compressed, the more likely pain can result due to a lack of blood flow and oxygen to the tissues. Over time, this creates fibrous adhesion build up in the tissues. This restricts range of motion, decreases strength, causes pain, and can eventually lead to degeneration.

What about tissue being STRETCHED? You may be thinking, “I thought stretching was a good thing?” It depends. When your muscles, joints, and nerves are healthy then stretching is great. A classic example of when stretching is the wrong solution is with sciatic nerve entrapment. Picture the above example of years of compressing the sciatic nerves to your buttock muscles. Now the nerves are stuck with fibrous adhesions. This means that your hamstrings and maybe even your lower back constantly feel tight. And while you get some short term relief, you feel like you constantly need to do it. The little known secret is that stretching a nerve entrapment will cause your condition to worsen over time. Testing range of motion is also a great way to stretch tissues to see how healthy they are. This is done in our office to know exactly the status of your muscles, joints, and nerves. If tissues aren’t stretching fully without pain, fibrous adhesion is likely present. We confirm this with our hands. No amount of stretching will get rid of fibrous adhesions.

Think of a CONTRACTED muscle like when you flex your bicep. The tissue is being squeezed together. At the same time this also adds compression into the joint that’s moving, as well as the tissues on the opposite side of the joint being stretched. Therefore, contracting a tissue involves all of the components listed above, so by itself it’s not as distinguishing as compressing or stretching. However, when you tear a muscle contracting that muscle will be painful and often weak depending on the severity of the tear. Contracting tissue that has fibrous adhesion present will be weaker and may also be painful at times. It may feel weak in the sense of heavy loads and low repetitions, or with longer endurance activities like running, biking, or sitting upright without support.

Having the data for all 3 components ensures success. A provider that doesn’t understand these concepts will yield less effective results for you. Here are some other articles that you may like about fixing back pain, 4 steps to take to avoid neck/back pain, and a first hand success story of one our patients.