Perhaps the best treatment philosophy is not to have just one treatment philosophy. The body is a beautifully complicated collection of systems. While it may be easier to understand these systems when examined singularly, what is often neglected is that these various systems collectively work together and are mediated by the nervous system by way of reflexes. Thus, dysfunction in one system is often expressed or manifests in other systems simultaneously. Effective treatment may therefore necessitate a variety of different approaches introduced at different times to address the interconnectivity and expression of each system.
The body is a beautifully complicated collection of systems.
To illustrate this concept of the interconnection of all the body’s systems, and how it relates to both pain and injury, let’s examine what happens during a traumatic event. If you have ever stepped on a sharp object, i.e. a nail, you would experience a rapid cascade of neurological events. As the nail penetrates the body, the sensory system is stimulated and you experience pain, perhaps even vocalizing it with an “Ouch!!” As a defensive mechanism to limit further injury to the foot, your lower extremity would involuntarily be withdrawn from the sharp object. Simultaneously, the penetrating nail would also trigger the activation of the ‘fight or flight’ system whereby there would be a rapid increase in heart rate, respiration, perspiration, dilation of the pupils, heightened vigilance as well as a redirection of blood flow to the extremities. You might also experience a pang of discomfort in the gut as well. In summary, the injury would have elicited simultaneous neurological responses throughout the Sensory, Motor, Sympathetic, Visceral and Reflexive Systems singularly but throughout the body as a whole.
The body now learns to compensate for the injury.
In the acute stages of this injury, with each new step you will continue to stimulate this cascade of neurological activity, integrating the pattern into the nervous system. With time, the pain may lessen and the puncture may heal, but the integrated pattern may still exist. As a result, proper function becomes impaired, or neurologically inhibited. The body now learns to compensate for the injury. This ultimately leads to other seemingly unrelated issues or pain syndromes or the likely recurrence of the initial injury itself. Thus it is important to approach any injury or traumatic event with a comprehensive approach that evaluates the all aspects of the nervous system.