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2 Steps You Must Take When You’re in Pain: About Symptoms

2 Steps You Must Take When You’re in Pain: About Symptoms Barefoot Rehabilitation Clinic

21 Sep 2 Steps You Must Take When You’re in Pain: About Symptoms

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If you’re reading this, you either:

a) are in pain in the present.
b) were in pain in the past.
c) want to prevent pain in the future.

If none of the above apply, you can stop reading now.

If you want to avoid symptoms (specifically, the symptom of pain) and seek pleasure like most organisms do now and until you die, read on.

What is a symptom (in depth)?

If you haven’t already fully grasped the concepts of load and capacity, you need to.

Load is work you do.

Capacity is work you’re able to do.

These concepts govern all pain, disease, as well as fitness, and health.  Not only for your musculoskeletal health, but even for the health of your organs and the length of your life.  That’s for another time.

When your load exceeds your capacity, you have symptoms.


Symptoms: any sensation observed by your conscious mind that tells you that you’ve caused damage.   Musculoskeletal symptoms include:

  • generally pain
  • stiffness
  • burning (this burning is different from the burning caused by inflammation in a workout, which is normal and healthy.)
  • throbbing
  • sharpness
  • tenderness
  • achiness
  • numbness
  • tingling
  • tightness (sometimes a symptom and sometimes not.)
  • etc.

Here, we will pause to fully grasp the above image.

A symptom tells you when a specific part of your body has done all the work that it is capable of and no longer wants to do any more work.  The symptom’s purpose, evolutionary speaking, is to get you to STOP doing whatever you were doing that overloaded that body part.  The nervous system, which evolved to be the fire alarm for your body when there is a fire, is trying to get you to put the fire out.


The nervous system is NOT bringing pain to your awareness so that you can unplug the metaphorical fire alarm and let the fire rage on, causing further damage has the fire continues to grow and worsen.  Examples of unplugging the fire alarm include:

a) getting a cortisone shot.
b) taking pain medication in any form.
c) wearing kinesiotape.
d) receiving a reflexive form of therapy that only neurologically relaxes your symptomatic tissue without reducing pathology, making the symptoms come back within 24 hours of receiving that treatment.

The nervous system IS bringing pain to your awareness so that you can put the fire out.  Only by putting the fire out will you prevent further damage to your already existing disc herniation, osteoarthritis, labrum/cartilage tear, or other structural dysfunction.

What are symptoms (in short)?

Symptoms = a STOP sign.

Stop doing whatever you are doing that makes the pain worse.


What 2 steps should you take now?

Below are 2 steps you must take when you’re in pain:

  1. Stop: Don’t do whatever provokes your symptoms.  You’re causing further damage and only setting yourself up for a longer journey to repair the home that gives you life.
  2. Find Answers: You need to figure out what the problem is (Medically speaking, the problem is called a “pathology” or biomechanically speaking, the problem is called a “dysfunction“).

Not stopping when you’re in pain is akin to letting your house burn, slowly and systematically.

You might be amazed to realize that there are chronic pain sufferers out there who have been to one, five, or even upwards of ten healthcare practitioners and still have no idea what the pathology is that is causing their symptoms.

This, ladies and gentleman, is unacceptable.

More on dysfunctions and diagnosis later.

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Dr. Chris Stepien, DC, Full-Body ID Certified, ART Certified, CSCS, and CrossFit Level 1 Certified, is a Sports Therapy & Chronic Pain Resolution Specialist with Barefoot Rehab in Parsippany, NJ.  When you're in pain that hasn't gone away and you've been to at least 3 other doctors, Dr. Chris wants to help you. And when you're sad, depressed, or not enjoying life, Dr. Chris wants to hug you. He invites you to reach out, no matter what your concern is. Barefoot Rehab is here to serve you.
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