We often hear from clients that they have “Bad Ankles”, “Bad Knees” or a “Bad Back”. While there are certainly some injuries that can leave a permanent structural change and cause chronic issues, often “Bad” signifies an injury that someone sustained a long time ago, and simply has not completely rehabilitated.
***Update*** Contemporary Pain Science has shown us that our brain produces pain in response to actual or perceived threat to the tissues of the body. The brain can perceive threat from a number of sources, including emotional state, social situation, previous experience of injury, stress etc. If a joint or body part was injured long ago, but still hurts, logic tells us that it is exceedingly unlikely that the tissues are still damaged. Injured tissues heal in 6-12 weeks. It’s entirely possible, in fact incredibly likely, that a “Bad Back” or a “Bad ankle” is in fact no longer bad, but the pain system keeps protecting it due to fear of movement, weakening of supporting muscles due to inactivity (reduced load tolerance), and even the continued use of the word “Bad” to describe the joint. Every time you tell someone you have a bad ankle, that strengthens your brains desire to protect your ankle by producing a protective pain response when you move the joint.
It’s great to see the amazement on people’s faces when after some weeks of appropriate pain education, re-strengthening or mobilising exercise they start to develop perfectly normal function again. For ankles and knees this often involves balance exercises and specific muscle retraining, and for back injuries some easy stretches and retraining of trunk and hip muscles and reducing fear of movement. The take home message is; It’s never too late to improve your pain and function.
Have you got a “Bad” body part that you’ve put up with for years, thinking that it was just your lot in life? Might be worth asking someone about it…