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Symptom Variability Part II

Invertabelt > Professional/Clinical Blog > Symptom Variability Part II
In part one we provided strategies to help identify high and low points of pain variations throughout the day.  Equally important is examining the activities that we were performing in between high and low periods of pain.  Pain doesn’t always follow a cause and effect relationship that is easy to see from a patient perspective.  For example, it’s very easy to see that if you are using a hammer and accidently hit your finger in the process – the pain in your finger is obviously coming from when you struck it with the hammer.  Unfortunately, this direct cause and effect relationship does not always occur with orthopedic injuries.

Now imagine, you hit that same finger with the hammer, but instead of having pain immediately, you experience pain 3-4 hours later.  Would you still be able to identify the hammer as the main cause of the pain?  Maybe, maybe not?

Picture having a chronically sore shoulder, and every time a jacket or coat is put on, the shoulder is overstretched and a slight discomfort is present.  The discomfort almost immediately goes away.  2-3 hours later while sitting at the computer a dull ache begins in the middle upper arm.  Would you be able to equate putting a coat on and a minor strain as the main cause of your pain?  This pattern is much more common in chronic orthopedic injuries and can be very confusing if we are not taught to look for triggers/causes of pain.

As stated above the first goal is to examine the peaks and valleys of your symptoms.  Then, one must look at the immediate activities that you are doing when your pain is both better and worse.  Finally, you should look at the activities leading up to your pain free moments or your more painful moments.  The final step is illustrated in the chart below.

Invertabelt Education variable pain oakford group andrew champion

If we can examine the activities leading up to pain, we can do a better job of identifying the triggers and eventually eliminating them.  Eliminating the cause of pain is the first step to recovery!!!

Pattern recognition is key to recovery, activity modification is the next step and will be discussed in part 3.

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