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The Most Important Question to Ask About Your Pain

heal yourself healing an injury healing and injury healing chronic pain healing pain the pain free athlete Aug 28, 2012
Questions to ask related to your pain

You know that kid who is always asking questions to the point of being annoying? What does s/he want to know - WHY? Why this, why that, why, why, why. It can be a difficult question with a complex answer. Adults interacting with this child may become drained by the steady stream of inquiries and start to answer with because - because it is, because I said so or just because.

When was the last time you asked WHY? I know with my fast paced life I don't slow down and ask WHY enough. It takes time and energy to find answers to hard WHY questions and it's quicker and easier to just accept that it is because it is.

This is especially true if you have someone you trust, respect and consider an expert giving you advice. I often follow the guidance of my financial consultant without much thought. He's watching the markets everyday and has more information than me about smart investment choices. Although I monitor the progress and define my goals, I am willing to defer the management decisions to someone more prepared. 

Unfortunately, we tend to defer the same decision responsibility to others when it comes to the one thing we know best, our bodies. Previously if told I needed surgery, my response was, okay how soon can we schedule the operation? I put my complete faith in the doctor.  However, upon going to another Orthopedic surgeon for my third left knee surgery I did ask him WHY the knee kept having problems and seemed to be falling apart. His response was that it was wear and tear and if I did 300 leg lifts a day I'd be fine. What?

Who knows your pain better than you?  No one. Joints can't talk. The only way they can alert us of harm is to create painful sensations and desperately hope we listen. Pain is your body's last resort mechanism to get your attention that something is wrong.

Instead of having a fear reaction to pain we need to ask our body what it is trying to communicate. We need to go back to being a curious child and asking WHY - a lot.

Why am I repeatedly hurting my left knee?

Why is my pain only on one side of my body?

Why has my pain expanded from my knee into my hip and back?

Why can't I contract my left gluteal muscle?

Why is my right side always tighter than my left?

Why can I run without pain but cycling hurts?

Why is my right hip higher than my left?

Why can I balance better on my left foot?


Putting all the answers to your WHY questions together will create a picture of the underlying dysfunction in your body. As in my case the answers were not easily attained but persistence pays. Not asking WHY and discovering the root cause of your pain can lead to chasing symptoms. It starts with one joint and spreads to another, then another. Knee surgery followed by a hip replacement then a back fusion...

Moving from accepting the opinions of others to asking WHY and questioning what is right for you takes courage and confidence. Choose to believe in yourself as the expert on your body and your ability to heal and make the best decisions for your health.

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