Top 5 Fridays! 5 Metaphors for Reframing Pain and Damage | Modern Manual Therapy Blog - Manual Therapy, Videos, Neurodynamics, Podcasts, Research Reviews

Top 5 Fridays! 5 Metaphors for Reframing Pain and Damage

5 Metaphors for Reframing Pain and Damage -


5 Metaphors for Reframing Pain and Damage

Pain does NOT always equal damage, especially when symptoms persist beyond normal healing times.

When dealing with symptoms that someone cannot see, it is oftentimes interpreted that the more painful a movement/activity is the more damaging it can be.

This simply is not true as pain is much more complex than any dichotomous relationship involving tissue damage.

Some people can have lots of damage with no pain and others can have lots of pain with no damage.
Pain Metaphors by Cameron Faller

Metaphors are often used to help validate that an individual’s pain is real while helping them reframe the belief that it may not be dangerous.

👉Sunburn Analogy - This is a great analogy when someone is performing a particular movement or exercise that is painful, but it reduces or becomes abolished within minutes after the exercise has been performed.

👉Bruises vs Paper Cuts - This concept works well when an individual might come in with an MRI or X-ray that shows normal degeneration but is worried that it's the sole cause of their pain. We know through research that the amount of degeneration does not predict someone’s pain experience.

👉Motion Sensitivity Analogy - This works well for someone with central sensitivity or a heightened nervous system. The concept would be to work on dimming the sensitivity down to a point where the light alerts us when a car comes up, but not when every leaf blows by.

👉Cup Analogy - This was first described by Greg Lehman who described our pain tolerance like a cup. The more factors or stresses in the cup is likely to lead to more intolerance. In order to improve that tolerance, you can either work on reducing the stresses in the cup, or building the cup bigger. 

👉Broken Heart Analogy - This works well when someone might be undergoing a very emotional pain experience. If pain is limiting someone from accomplishing their job, hobby, sport, etc., it may become emotional which only heightens the pain response.

Utilizing analogies and metaphors may help reframe an individual's perception and reduce the threat level in regards to a movement or activity they need to perform

"Aspire to Inspire" - via Cam Faller, DPT 

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