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Pushing Through Pain: Harmful or Helpful?

Is It Safe to Push Through Pain? How Do I Know When I Need to Stop?

As crude as it sounds, pain is a natural part of life. At one time or another, we have all been in some type of pain. Because I am not able to properly examine or diagnose you through this screen, I am going to focus on addressing pain as it relates to common muscle and joint conditions that I commonly deal with in my practice as a chiropractic physician at Movement Clinic: Spine & Sports Injury Center in Amherst, Ohio. It is always best to see your doctor or a licensed healthcare provider for personal guidance and management of your condition.

What is Acute Pain? What is Chronic Pain?

Before we talk about managing pain, let us first categorize it: acute pain is usually a sudden onset of pain that is easily identified. This pain is the initial pain phase that lasts for the first 3-6 weeks and is often associated with swelling, bruising, and edema.

Chronic pain is pain that lasts beyond this initial phase and continues to be present long after the swelling and bruising recede, sometimes lasting for months or years. In some cases, chronic pain has an unknown mechanism or may have had a gradual onset.

Below, I will talk about strategies for managing (firstly) chronic pain and (secondly) acute pain, although many of the principles will apply to both types of pain.

Why Do I Still Have Pain After Surgery? Why Do I Still Have Pain After Taking a Pain Killer?

The medical world is full of genius doctors, pharmacists, and scientists. Humans have figured out how to eliminate thousands of conditions and decrease pain in equally as many scenarios.

However, there’s still one area that many still struggle overcoming: CHRONIC PAIN.

Because of all of the advancements in medicine, many people think that there just HAS to be an answer out there. There HAS to be something out there to take away this pain; some type of surgery, or medicine, or chiropractic adjustment....

But to the dismay of many... often there isn’t. If you are reading this and you are someone who has been going through these frustrations, then it may be time to take Robert Frost’s advice:

Does Exercise Help Chronic Pain?

For many chronic conditions, the best way out, is the way through. The road will be painful, it will take time... but most importantly: it’s possible!

Be willing to endure a bit of pain. Why not try? Start moving again! ... slowly, (and with guidance from a health professional). Desensitize your injury, start to get it used to loads again; progress! ... slowly.

If you have chronic pain and have tried everything else, and nothing has worked... maybe it’s time to try the way through.

What About Acute Pain?

Do you ever feel like you get lost between the world of “suck it up and get through it” and “don’t do anything that will make it worse”?

Especially when dealing with an injury, it’s extremely important to understand when you can push something (during rehab or competition), and when it’s time to give it a rest or try a different approach.

One really helpful way to think about this is with the stop light method: these are some general guidelines that have proven to be effective for management of many conditions. (Always consult your doctor first) While this system is usually associated with acute pain, it can also be used to gauge chronic pain.

The Stop Light Method

Whether a condition is painful or not during the activity is not the best metric: it’s also about how you feel immediately after the activity and in minutes/hours after. If you perform an activity and when you are done your condition is feeling the same or better than it was before the activity, this is generally a green light that the activity is safe. 🟢

If you perform an activity that is painful, but upon competition the pain is “no worse” or the pain stops, it is a caution that you can continue to do the activity as long as pain does not stick around after completion, but keep a close watch. 🟡

Finally, there’s the red light, which means that after the activity you feel worse and the pain does not dissipate. This means it’s a good idea to talk to a professional, take a break, or switch it up. 🔴

Remember that these stop lights can change throughout your rehab/workout. The first set might be a yellow light and the 2nd could be a red light. Always be conscious of what your body is telling you and follow the stop light indicators .

About the Author:

Dr. Michael Hozan is a licensed chiropractic physician and the founder of Movement Clinic: Spine & Sports Injury Center, located in Amherst, Ohio. Dr. Hozan practices using a functional approach aimed at not only decreasing pain from injuries and other conditions, but also restoring full function so that people are able to feel better and move better than ever before. If you are in the Northeast Ohio area and are looking for pain and/or injury solutions for nerve, muscle, and/or joint conditions call (440) 984-7176 or visit

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🚫This content has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. Movement Clinic does not make any representation or warranties with respect to the accuracy, applicability, fitness, or completeness of the content. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read or seen on the Site.🚫

199 N Leavitt Rd. STE 100 Amherst, OH. 44001

Chiropractor Amherst, Ohio

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