Pain is your friend

Paul Adamson
May 1, 2019

Jo Cameron only realises her skin is burning when she smells singed flesh. She often burns her arms on the oven, but feels no pain to warn her.

That's because she is one of only two people in the world known to have a rare genetic mutation. Dr James Cox from UCL who has been studying her extraordinary case, says: ‘We hope that with time, our findings might contribute to clinical research for post-operative pain and anxiety, and potentially chronic pain, PTSD and wound healing.’ 

One out of two patients after surgery today still experiences moderate to severe pain, despite all advances in pain killer medications. If you are a sufferer of migraines, you know that pain killers only have a limited effect on your pain. My clients often cannot be entirely free of the pain they come to me with but massage can be a very effective way of managing pain. Sometimes insisting that the pain of a certain condition has to disappear completely – finding a cure – can be self-defeating.

I had a client in Highbury this week who told me she had tried every form of therapy for her condition and every type of massage but nothing had worked. ‘So why come to me?’ I asked. ‘I read your blog and I read all those great reviews,’ she replied. ‘I thought you could help me.’ It was clear to me that I was just one in a constant round of therapists she would try in pursuit of ‘a cure’. I told this client I could help her but she would still have her pain when she left. If she didn’t want to proceed on this basis, it would be better if she left. She stayed, felt ‘definitely better than before’ and left me to go to see her acupuncturist …

I often tell clients that what we want in a deep tissue massage is ‘good pain’ and most people know what I’m talking about. Clearly I don’t want a client recoiling from my touch or feeling pain that is unpleasant. When I get a massage I love a few moments of being taken to that point when I’m just on the edge – any more and I couldn’t take it. Others have a much lower pain threshold and even a moderate amount of pressure is enough to break down muscle fibre adhesions and improve circulation.

Pain is necessary in life – it is a sign of life and your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. Pain is an alarm call and you must never ignore it – I’m often surprised how long clients of mine have been putting up with pain. They think they just have to grin and bear it. All of us will be in pain at many points of our life; accepting pain is not the same as not doing anything about your pain.



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