What is Pain
The Lion That Roared
When I was younger, so much younger than today, I played the role of the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz. It was during a random morning performance, for which I needed to travel three hours in each direction, that my body suddenly froze on stage and I couldn’t move; something had happened to my lower back and I wasn’t sure what.
It would be a few days later, after trying to stretch my back in all the creative ways that a dancer can come up with, that my Orthopedist would break it to me that I had a Herniated Disc (gasp). My world would be shattered because I would believe it was the end of my dancing career, and that I would never be able to hoist my kids up on my shoulders when I would become a father one day.
A few months later, my life would be changed and eventually saved by a pioneer physical therapist, Adi Davidovitz, who would introduce me to knowledge and information about about pain, its causes and its manifestations. I would then not only heal my back, but also become the number one specialist in the world — for my own body.
I have decided to write this blog in order to share the life changing information that I had been given access to, in hope that it will help other dancers and non-dancers live a better life.
What is pain
“What is pain?” is a million-dollar question. Before we attempt to seriously address this tough question, let’s agree that we all experience and express pain differently, and at the same time, we all search for generic solutions when we want it to go away.
The International Association for the Study of Pain*, defines it as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage. If we look closely at this choice of words, we notice the use of the term ‘associated’, which suggests that the connection between unpleasant sensations and actual tissue damage or distress might sometimes be coincidental.
The pain scientists Melzack and Casey** had a different definition for pain, and divided it into three different aspects:
A Sensory-Differential aspect: the actual sensation of any stimuli throughout the body and the filtering of superficial ones which do not require any attention (e.g. - mosquito bites).
A Cognitive — Interpretative aspect: the noticing of stimuli and focusing of attention to its occurrence and meaning (e.g. - discomfort felt while sitting for long hours which results in a change of posture).
An Emotional-Motivational aspect: an emotional reaction following a physical sensation (e.g. - crying after falling and hurting yourself), and any behavioral changes pertaining to the cause of the sensation (e.g. - avoiding hazards after being impacted by them).
Moreover and most importantly, we are capable of experiencing pain in any or all three aspects without there actually being any damage in our bodies.
The later explanation of just how complex pain might actually be, is the point from which I invite you to join me on a journey in search of new ways of understanding your pain, and eventually gaining control over it, rather than having it control you.
*Merskey & Bogduke, 1994
**Melzack & Casey, 1968