“You mentioned emotional/mental blocks to healing. This is the great question: what to do to prevent or redirect chronic pain? I’ve watched so many folks go through knee/hip replacement surgery in my life and also celebrities and aging athletes. The great question is what causes and sustains pain. I’d detail my plans for dealing with my issues, but I’m no expert and I’m not terribly successful so I’d rather just listen.”
Someone close to me also just went through knee replacement surgery. Fortunately, it is going well.
…And she’ll be back for the other knee once her first knee is fully healed!
Is this an inevitable part of aging?
No, I don’t believe so.
If it were inevitable everyone would do it, or at least everyone would end up in a wheelchair at some point if they didn’t. But we can see plenty of examples of elders where this is not the case.
On the physical level, we have to think about two ideas that juxtaposed.
“Use it or lose it” aka underuse.
And on the flip side we have overuse.
Here we need to aim for the “Golden Mean.” This includes not just use but quality or proper use which also means looking at the complex connections that exist in our biomechanics.
And yet this physicality is still just one factor, albeit an important one. In addition, we need to look at recovery, nutrition, inflammation and the other perspectives such as emotions and thoughts.
If you believed it was inevitable that because of your sport for instance, you’d have to get a knee replacement, what are the chances that it would happen? We can’t say for sure, but we can confidently say it’s higher than it would be if you didn’t strongly hold this belief!
Pain itself is a combination of these many things together. What causes pain? It’s the million dollar question! Science has some okay answers, and we’ve got some great tools to use to manage pain as well.
But we by no means understand it all.
Most people assume that pain is a physical thing. But that’s not quite accurate. It is more often psychological than anything else. Yes, this has to do with the physical nervous system, but also much more.
In other words, how you think and feel affect your pain level. And vice versa as well.
And this is why I like to take a multiple-perspective lens to pain.
First, do an audit.
What is your pain level?
Is it constant, or intermittent?
What is the quality of the pain? (aka sharp, dull, pin-pointed, expansive, etc.)
What makes it better?
What makes it worse?
What time of day does it peak?
When does it ebb?
How long ago did it start?
What else was going on at the time?
How do you feel about it?
These are just some of the questions worth asking.
Armed with this information you can look across the different perspectives for how to make it better.
What can you do physically that makes it better?
For this to really work you either have to trust an expert like a physical therapist, or learn to trust your body and listen to it as I explain in Intuitive Mobility.
This is critical as it helps up to aim towards that proper use. It helps to avoid things that cause more damage (aka overuse). It helps us to do more that is underused.
What can you do nutritionally?
Turmeric and the isolated compound, curcumin, are all the rage today for helping with inflammation and helping many people with pain.
There are hundreds if not thousands of other supplements available. Experiment and see what works.
What can you do topically?
Anything you eat may help depending on digestion and the systemic effects. But you can essentially treat the area “nutritionally” by using something topical.
This is key. I especially like to combine this with doing restorative movements. In other words, apply the topical treatment and then move. Also apply even more it afterwards.
What can you do mentally and emotionally?
There are so many factors here that it needs to be taken on a case-by-case basis. Personally, my go to tools are EFT and NLP for this area.
Blocks come in many forms. Often there is some sort of emotion trapped up inside. The big ones would include anger, guilt, shame, grief, or fear. Many times, multiple emotions of these are layered in there.
Then there are mental ideas that get layered in to this. “It’s inevitable.” “Just my lot in life.” “It’s easier to escape than to deal with it.”
To find out the blocks you’re going to have to dig. It might be shallow. It might be deep.
The longer a chronic pain has existed, the more layers there typically will be.
But to give one generality…are you blessing or cursing your pain?
“Ah, that’s just my stupid bum knee!” vs. “Thank you knee for getting stronger and more mobile”
Which are you doing regularly? This blessing can be especially combined with movements, topical treatments and more.
What can you do energetically?
I liked how Fritjof Capra spoke about the topic in The Turning Point. We in the West who don’t have a clear viewpoint of energy may find this useful. Energy is the systems communication that exists within your body. We can use our microscopes and diagnostics to analyze the inflammation in an area. But what is guiding the body to bring nutrition into an area, and discard wastes? What causes healing to occur 100% on some injuries and not on other?
The blocks mentioned will stop it and working energetically is another way to assist the process. Sometimes you don’t need to figure out the emotions or thoughts behind it, just move the energy.
Those can all be useful perspectives to look at.
Now, if you have bone-on-bone on your knee and it’s been hurting for two decades…there’s a chance you’re too far gone for these kind of interventions.
It’s not certain, but a possibility.
There is a time and place for surgery. AND surgery is way overused.
In my opinion, it should be used as a last resort. The question is, have you exhausted all the possibilities mentioned here? I highly doubt it. Because almost no one thinks like this.
Let’s flip it around. If you do this kind of stuff regularly, taking care of your joints and other tissues for decades, dealing with things as they popped up, how do you think you’ll be moving when you’re 60 or 90 years old?
I know which route I’m pointing towards.
The Indestructible Body is a good starting place to go deeper into these concepts, but specifically the movement side of things working the three important aspects of strength, flexibility and mobility.
Do this long enough, continue getting better at it, and you can become 100% free of chronic pains.