Flexion, rotation, snakes
I am just shy of 60 years and I was doing some painting on the weekend in a place where I knew there were tiger snakes. With a combination of spinal flexion, rotation, tiger snake apprehension and a host of other contributors, I suddenly experienced sharp, breath taking, swear enhancing low back pain. No wonder people become so fearful of pain! I hobbled away, thoroughly pissed off, lay on the floor and a lyric from Leonard Cohen came to mind;
“I ache in the places where I used to play”
The power of context and meaning
For me, this lyric can be a Neuroscience Nugget – a reminder of the powerful aspect of the context and meaning of a pain or an injury. Because we do often ache in the places where we used to play – knees that carried us as we ran across the baseline like Roger Federer, shoulders that lifted our children and loved ones, or backs that swayed easily as we danced and grooved. Maybe sometimes we also ache for the times when the part was in all its glorious use. When this happens, it’s easy to get angry with the part; to reject it, to seek quick, invasive answers to problems with the part. Maybe we disembody it.
A reminder to see the whole person
I’m not suggesting that a young clinician immediately asks someone if they ache in the places where they used to play… But to think of the nugget as a reminder to see the whole person and their rich history – to avoid the inherent disembodiment that comes with just treating a part or a place. If you think about it, really good graded exposure to activity is really just about playing with the aching parts and places in different ways and contexts, as you learn to love again the body and all its places, that were once a vital part of so much play and life.
Here’s Leonard Cohen performing Tower of Song in 1989
“Now my friends are gone and my hair is grey
I ache in the places where I used to play
And I’m crazy for love but I’m not coming on…”
Neuroscience nuggets are information nuggets – pieces of biological information based on statement or metaphor that can be used as educational analgesia, explicit education or part of overall story telling. We have collected over 100 of these for a book and will release them regularly on NOIjam.
Get a double dose of Neuroscience Nuggets in special three day, combined Explain Pain and Graded Motor Imagery courses in Townsville, April 29 – May 1, or Noosa, June 17-19.