Top 5 Fridays! 5 metaphors to reframe pain and damage | Modern Manual Therapy Blog

5 metaphors to reframe pain and damage -


5 metaphors to reframe pain and damage

Pain does NOT always equate to damage, especially when symptoms persist beyond normal healing times.

When it comes to symptoms that someone cannot see, it is often interpreted that the more painful a movement / activity, the more damaging it can be.

This is simply not true because pain is much more complex than any dichotomous relationship involving tissue damage.

Some people can have a lot of damage without pain and others can have a lot of pain without damage.

Pain metaphors by Cameron Faller

Metaphors are often used to help validate that an individual’s pain is real while helping them reframe the belief that it may not be dangerous.

👉 Sunburn Analogy – This is a great analogy when someone performs a particular movement or exercise that is painful, but lessens or becomes abolished within minutes of exercising.

👉Bruises vs paper clippings – This concept works well when an individual may present with an MRI or X-ray that shows normal degeneration but is concerned that this is the sole cause of their pain. We know from research that the amount of degeneration cannot predict a person’s pain.

👉 Motion Sensitivity Analogy – This works well for a person with central sensitivity or an increased nervous system. The concept would be to work on attenuating sensitivity to a point where the light alerts us when a car is going up, but not when each leaf passes.

👉 Cup analogy – This was first described by Greg Lehman who described our pain tolerance as a cup. The more factors or stress in the cup is likely to lead to more intolerance. In order to improve this tolerance, you can either work on reducing the stress in the cup or build the cup larger.

👉 Broken Heart Analogy – It works well when someone may be going through a very emotional pain experience. If pain is preventing someone from doing their job, hobby, sport, etc., it can become emotional, which only increases the response to pain.

The use of analogies and metaphors can help reframe an individual’s perception and reduce the level of threat when it comes to a movement or activity that they need to perform

“Aspire to inspire” – via Cam Faller, DPT

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