How to relieve chronic pain according to an athletic performance director
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How to relieve chronic pain according to an athletic performance director

How to relieve chronic pain according to an athletic performance director

Question: Given your focus and expertise, if someone is in chronic pain and you could only give him/her one piece of advice to put them on a path to recovery, what would you tell them?

Why ask this question? Well, we feel that it's a good idea to seek information from multiple outlets to gain new perspectives. It's great to learn new things.

We believe that chronic pain should be attacked from multiple angles such as with movement, mindset, and nutrition (find the whole roundup of experts here).

Here is what Chris Chase, performance director for the Memphis Grizzlies, had to say about this question:

"When attempting to help somebody with chronic pain, there are so many variables involved.

There are so many things that have nothing to do with the physical manifestations of pain and so many things that have very much to do with something cognitive, something that stems from the brain. And, when considering that, it's so important, I think, to have an open mind for somebody in chronic pain to explore all options and things that can help you out. That may sound a little bit different or off the beaten path, something that may be or may not be in the popular mainstream intervention.

For example, something that's not necessarily a pill or something you get from a pharmacy. But it might be simply meditation, it might be something that's psychological that can be helped by simply talking to a trusted friend or having them help you over time to get rid of some sort of stress or some sort of, again, cognitive thing that is happening that is manifesting as some sort of physical pain.

So often, I think we target the site of pain and this is a more popular notion now that people are becoming in tune to this. But it's so popular to treat the site of the pain and not necessarily look elsewhere. And again, that's an important piece.

I think the more people you talk to in different spaces that are not just maybe relying on a pharmacist for an intervention, folks that can rely on different interventions or modalities that can help and that could be physical in nature. That is may be a massage, maybe some sort of manual therapy you haven't explored. Things like needling or cupping or different modalities that are, again, pain-site modalities that may help you relax. Things like sensory deprivation tanks as well that are becoming more popular.

Somebody within that chronic back pain or something like that to get into, for example, a sensory deprivation tank that may be a feeling that you have never felt before or your body has never felt before and therefore it becomes some sort of relaxation or has some sort of relaxation effect. That may lead to some pain relief. So these things that may be outside of the box to explore that are extremely important as options or any item you may be able to pick from that you as the individual may find relief from.

It's important to remember that some of this stuff isn't an N=1 situation where it may help you but somebody with the same pain, pain site, same symptoms, it may not help them. And that's because how much the mind comes in its way, how powerful the brain is and the neurons that are coming off of the brain to feed these pain fibers signals a feeling of pain downstream. That's where these things are stemming from. They are stemming from the brain, these signals to tell you "hey this is painful, I don't like this." And so, who's to say, that some obscure method or intervention would change that for a person because we know so much that stems from the brain.

And for those who have had different experiences in life and have different thresholds for change or thresholds for manipulation of what the brain is signaling then we can't pretend to know these specific interventions that are going to help everybody. We can't make that blanket statement.

So I would encourage folks that are in chronic pain to seek out as many different modalities or interventions or people or methods that you can find because something out there may help you as an individual. And that would be a shame if that was something you weren't able to find because you were stuck in a mainstream method of treatment."

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