Episode 5.  #lowerbackpain and #sciatica questions answered by Active X Backs Chief Back Officer Gavin Routledge.  Why does my lower back hurt so much? How being stung by a wasp led to the Grand Unifying Theory of Pain?
You will find about the Theory of #Pain.

This is the 5th of our six pillar episodes. This is part one, which is a story about a curious incident that occurred last Friday which led to the Grand unifying theory of pain. In part two (episode six), I will elaborate more into the theory of pain in which you’ll get an equation for pain based on everything talked about in this episode. Now the question, why does my lower back hurt so much? Really what you’re asking is why and what determines the severity of my back pain? In order to get to that, I’m going to tell you a story.

The story of Gavin’s wasp sting

Last Friday I was cycling to work as is normal for me. A couple of miles from home and I felt a small jab in my upper thigh. I looked down and there’s a wasp sitting on my shorts, it’s summertime here so it’s cycling shorts weather, and I could tell by the jab the little blighter had stung me. So I brushed it off and then observed what happened.  Anyone who knows me will know that I am a huge fan of studying pain. Not a huge fan of suffering it, but certainly studying it. So this was a perfect opportunity to observe what happened subsequent to this wasps sting. I don’t know a great deal about insects, but I do know when they sting you, they put a little toxin into you, and your body reacts against that which generally leads to pain. It certainly did in both in that initial jab and very soon thereafter, within seconds my thigh was sore.

Pain observation

As I was cycling along I noticed that sometimes I was aware of the pain and other times I wasn’t aware of it at all. While cycling along, legs moving vigorously, typically I didn’t feel any pain but when I stopped, I felt more pain and yet the sting was constant. It was in there. The toxins were in there. The toxins weren’t reduced -but the pain was variable. My second observation relates to attention and the pain felt. So whenever I thought about my sting, I could feel the pain but when there was lots happening (traffic, people walking out in front of me, etc.) I wasn’t aware of any pain at all. Apparently, my attention to my thigh seemed to be directly correlated with the amount of pain that I could feel.

Now I am not usually much of a catastrophizer, but in this instance my mind did drift to the possibility that I might have an anaphylactic response. Although never having had an anaphylactic response before, it’s not impossible. And certainly as soon as I started thinking about this possibility of anaphylaxis my pain seemed to increase. Fortunately, that didn’t last long because I reminded myself, I’ve never had anaphylaxis before and actually I’m super healthy so I started to reflect on how healthy I am and that made me feel good. Then all of a sudden I went from feeling quite anxious about the pain and having more pain to reassuring myself and not feeling the pain anymore.

These are my observations about my wasp sting and how they impacted on my severity of pain:

Observation number one– when I was moving I didn’t really experience pain, whereas when I was stationary I did.

Observation number two-  when I thought about my leg, I had more pain than when I didn’t think about it and I was busy doing other things.

Observation number three- when I was really worried and anxious about the whole thing and what it might result in, I had more pain. Whereas when I was feeling really good about myself, then I had no pain.

So there we have it, the severity of the pain felt depends on anxiety levels, your focus on the pain amongst other things. In the next episode, I will take all of that content and give you my grand unifying theory of pain. I look forward to it, and if you have any sense, you’ll jump straight to it now. See you there.