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The Benefits of Pain - An RSI Perspective


The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defines pain as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage. The word "pain" comes from the Latin root poena meaning punishment, a fine, a penalty (Wikipedia: Pain and Nociception). Although often connected with negative feelings, pain actually has some very important functions.

There are two types of pain: acute pain and chronic pain. Acute pain occurs for specific reasons. With acute pain, an actual or potentially damaging event triggers special sensory nerve endings located in the skin, muscles and joints. These neural impulses then travel through the dorsal horns of the spinal cord and up to the higher centers of the brainstem and brain. An automatic and rapid course of action to eliminate the event and prevent further injury is decided upon.


Many RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) sufferers experience chronic pain. Unlike acute pain, chronic pain serves no purpose. It is defined as "the disease of pain" (Wikipedia: Pain and Nociception). The initial purpose of pain is long forgotten but the pain continues and may even worsen. A stronger emotional component is associated with chronic pain including anxiety, depression and helplessness.

The benefits of acute pain are automatic body responses that prevent the body from further injury. We can some receive some of the same benefits with chronic pain; however, our actions will need to be more deliberate and thoughtful rather than the immediate and spontaneous requests demanded by our body.

Pain as a Warning Signal


Pain as the Body's Request for Healing


Pain as a Signal to Rest


For further information on injury prevention and recovery, visit Hand Health Resources.

Using cold packs can help reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. Elastogel cold packs are well made, durable, don't leak, feel nice against the skin, and fit/conform to body areas comfortably. This is my choice of cold pack in the clinic. An added bonus is that they can also be used as heat packs. The velcro strapping is a nice addition to hold the packs in place.

Elasto-Gel Hot/Cold Wrist or Elbow Wrap - #WR200 Elastogel

There are many topical pain relieving gels and creams on the market now. Biofreeze is one of the preferred choices by my clients in the clinic. It is easy to apply and does not leave a long-lasting, strong odor.

BIOFREEZE with ILEX Pain Relieving Gel - 4 oz. Tube

This book introduces trigger point therapy as a self-care tool for alleviating chronic pain caused by a variety of conditions. It has nice illustrations and consistently gets good reviews.

The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief, Second Edition


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