When my friend got out of the hospital and I was working with him with his mobility, I remember touching his shoulder, barely, but him pulling back reactively and yelling out in pain.
“I barely touched you.” I said “That hurt?”
“I thought it was going to.” He replied.
During his hospital stay, that particular shoulder was a painful trigger for him that it conditioned that particular anticipatory reaction. He believed that being touched in that shoulder will always hurt.
Anticipatory pain is caused by a belief of pain to come, which triggers the physiological pain system. The pain starts due to a thought as opposed to an action or reaction.
“This can make the patient feel trapped in a progressive cycle of disability” – Dr. Stephen Grinstead
I thought about the opposite type of situation. For example, training for competitive kickboxing, where they continue to beat their leg up in the hope of making it “stronger” so they can kick harder. The leg is made “stronger” through repetitive exertions and the brain doesn’t respond to the pain in the same way. and this could be measured scientifically. The bones themselves get stronger due to an overload exerted on the bone and the brain reduces the pain sensation due to “getting used to it”.
“In order to stimulate BMD gains in a particular bone, an exercise must overload that bone. This load imposed on a bone during exercise must be substantially greater than that experienced during normal activities of daily living.”
I recall a video about a man that can take hits to the groin.
I think about my friend with his anticipatory pain. He needs to alter his mental patterning, perhaps even akin to masochism, so that pain, while uncomfortable, can be encouraging rather than debilitating. He needs to “get off” on the pain, so as to do it often enough where the bones and muscles grow stronger due to being overloaded and over time the brain will stop responding to the pain-receptors in the same way.
Then will come the challenge for discerning between pain that over time will benefit bone and muscle strength versus pain that will cause injury.
Thank you for reading.