MedHum Monday Presents: OUCH–What’s With Physical Pain?

DailyDose_darkstrokeWelcome back to the Daily Dose and MedHum Monday! The medical humanities encompasses a wide field of inquiry, but at its core is a commitment to the human. It is also about communication, though, about narrative, and about story, and about the importance of sharing. Today, I’ve asked Joseph Watts, licensed orthopedic massage therapist, to talk to us about communication and pain. Not only does interpersonal communication serve as the backbone of human connection, but body communication (our body speaking to itself and to our consciousness) is a vital aspect of life and living. Welcome Joseph!

“OUCH”: What’s With Physical Pain?

By Joseph H. Watts

Why do our bodies hurt—sometimes, seemingly, for no reason? There are systemic conditions with such symptoms, like Fibromyalgia, but today I’d like to talk about something else: those sharp pains that seemed to come from nowhere, or the slow building pain that can creep up on the joints. The pain that plagues most Americans costs us billions in lost work and destroys our chances to do the fun things we have always done. What can we do?

To begin, we need to talk about communication, particularly interpersonal communication. (Trust me, this will all come together.) Communication is extremely important for survival. Beyond that, it is important for conducting business and fo effectively connecting with our families, friends, and neighbors. We all know the emotional pain of miscommunications, or worse, non-communication. Business fail when the communication fail. Families are split when they cannot effectively communicate, and many of us know the pain that occurs when communication is cut off completely. Often if one person in a relationship stops communicating, the other person will eventually start to plea or yell to open those lines back up. Do you see where this is going?

Woodcut of male with blood vessels Stephanus, 1545. Wellcome Images
Woodcut of male with blood vessels. Wellcome Images

Our minds and our bodies are intertwined; they are one, yet they are separate. The only way to keep both working together happily is if they are communicating. So understand this, your body is always talking to you. It is always telling you if something is not right. Something is a little off here, or something is a little tight there. Yet, we often ignore it. Actually, we are usually so distracted and busy we just don’t hear it. So the reason we have pain is because we haven’t been participating in this conversation. Pain is our body yelling at us that something is very wrong.

So back to that first question:what do we do about it? As an orthopedic massage therapist, I confront this everyday. I work hard to educate people about our wonderful bodies, and I have noticed that as people receive bodywork more regularly, they start to feel and indeed to “hear” their bodies again. People will begin to notice the small cues, and they can make corrections early on and avoid unnecessary pain. Adding something like yoga and mindfulness meditation to life also enhances our ability to listen to our bodies and rebuild that relationship. So the next time you feel that twinge in your back, realize that it might be time to quiet your mind and listen to your body.

To Your Health!

Joseph H. Watts, LMT, has logged more than 1000 hours of massage training. He has a passion for exploring the deep mystery that is the human form. He is a father, husband, brother, and friend who loves working with people, particularly aiding those suffering from chronic and intermittent pain. When he is not working as an orthopedic massage therapist, he spends his time in nature or his garden. (Also, he is a huge dork for Lord of the Rings–but who isn’t?)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s