“If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles.” – Sun Tzu

muscle pain and perceptionLife is both uncertain and sometimes threatening, which can cause us to shift our perception of what is safe, our vulnerability and even how we react or respond to stimuli.

An example is an adult woman, nearing 40, who was in a traumatic but not lethal automobile accident. Prior to that experience, her response to “close calls” or sudden stops or sound while riding in a car was mild and what we might consider normal.

After the accident, however, whenever these things happened while in a car, she instinctively grasped the dashboard and would gasp sharply and audibly. She also began to complain of pain and discomfort in her neck and shoulders as a result. What had happened is that her experience in the car accident had altered her perception of potential threats (brake lights, sudden turns or stops, and so on) to be immediate and possibly harmful.

While the connection in this instance was fairly obvious to discern, realizing that perception can be the underlying cause of movement dysfunction is not intuitive.

The medical term for our ability to sense stimuli is proprioception. Here is a medical definition offered by MedicineNet:

 “Proprioception: The ability to sense stimuli arising within the body regarding position, motion, and equilibrium. Even if a person is blindfolded, he or she knows through proprioception if an arm is above the head or hanging by the side of the body.”

In the medical world, balance disorders are often associated with dysfunctional proprioception. In those instances, according to an article on the MedicineNet website, the sense of proprioception is disturbed as a result of many neurological disorders and can sometimes be improved through the use of sensory integration.

Sensory integration is a form of occupational therapy in which special exercises are used to strengthen the patient’s sense of touch, sense of balance, and sense of where the body and its parts are in space or proprioception.

So, what has all this to do with chronic pain?

Proprioception and Pain

Once we understand that all tactile and movement sensations are neurological, we can begin to understand how mental perception can affect us on an emotional-physical level. One common result is unconscious alterations in our movements that result in discomfort and even chronic pain.

And because the root sensations are neurological in nature, they require deeper treatment that often involves a movement and perception approach. In other words, mental states such as fear, trepidation, and anxiety can be the real causes of movement dysfunction which causes pain.

This type of treatment involves asking a series of questions that can derive solid indications of causes that are likely psychological in nature. Once our assessment determines that this is the case, we can utilize therapies such a Proprioceptive Deep Tendon Reflex (P-DTR®)

P-DTR® was created by Dr. Jose Palomar after he determined that proprioception, and the way the body processes this information, is paramount in determining neuromuscular responses throughout the entire body. Motor function is not just determined by sensory receptors (proprioceptors) in the motor system, but rather is modified by the inputs of these receptors.

P-DTR® addresses the various sensory receptors of the body and how they affect and modify our movement patterns. These receptors for pain, stretch, pressure, hot, cold, vibration, and so on, all send information to the brain which then processes it to make decisions regarding our movement.

The human body determines the best movement and motor response based on a wide variety of factors, and proprioceptive responses help the brain tell muscles how to respond. However, when the information the brain receives is incorrect or altered for some reason, its response will be faulty and result in potential pain or dysfunction.

What the use of P-DTR® achieves is repairing these faulty connections through muscle tests and the stimulation of deep tendon reflexes. The result is a re-established connection of healthy and proper proprioceptive responses.

In turn, the brain will be better equipped to deal with pain management and proper motor function.

Your Alternative for Chronic Pain Treatment

When you first come to Pain and Performance Solutions, our goal is to learn everything we can about your current pain along with any history of discomfort. Actually treating and relieving your chronic pain only starts once we understand where and how your pain started.

Your trust in us and your honesty are key to our success. Ultimately, the only way to achieve total recovery is by getting your body healthy and working properly.

We do this by first conducting a full examination to help us determine which form of treatment is best suited to put you on your road to recovery. Because your body can compensate for pain to allow you to function during your day, the pain can move or lead to other forms of pain.

Don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any questions that you may have. You can reach us at (707) 636-4404 or by filling out our online contact form.