Breaking Through the Brain-Pain Barrier


We’ve all been there before. You are trying your best to be an active human being and then it all goes wrong. From rolling an ankle, to getting hit by a pitch, to a slip and fall while walking. Our brains go into a tailspin, telling us that the action that caused our pain should not be performed again. Think of it in terms of when you first learned that the stove could be hot. Maybe you reached out, touched it, and suffered the consequences. You probably never did that again, at least not on purpose.

We are hardwired to adapt and make the necessary changes needed to help keep us from harm. Here is the problem with this behavior: it can result in us developing a fear avoidance pattern. This pattern can be explained by the Fear-Avoidance Model of Chronic Pain, introduced in 1983 by Lethem et al. The pattern begins when pain is felt and you must process it. Next, this model states that you will process your pain experience in one of two directions. Either you will (1) confront your experience and decide there is no pain present or you will (2) confront your experience and decide that fear is present. Direction one will lead you down the road to recovery while direction two will lead you to future avoidance of the pain causing action. Unfortunately, avoidance of the action(s) can lend itself to disuse, disability, and depression.

The second option presents itself when your acute pain enters the chronic stage.This stage begins when you are a couple of weeks post injury and you haven’t been operating as your “normal” self. Your brain is longing for the input it received from your normal activity level pre-injury. However, the new presence of fear and the avoidance that follows leaves your brain to wonder when your body will ever be back to “normal.” We are here to help you return to your previous activity level, pain free and fearless, regardless of how long you’ve been hurting.

At Austin Sports Therapy, we make sure you head straight down the road to recovery. We treat the root cause of the pain, restore function, and build proper strength through and around the injury site. You are provided with a safe environment to test your movements, as well as a personalized exercise program that will tell you what to do and what not to do during the corrective phase. These tools will allow you to heal correctly, with the potential of being even stronger and more stable than before you suffered your injury. Ultimately, all of our doctors share one goal for our patients: to make sure your fear is gone, your pain is gone, and your injury never returns because we want you moving!

Dr. Bob Ream

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