But pain threshold, our topic, is first and foremost genetically programmed in. It is when your nervous system senses that something is wrong, or when your brain starts paying attention to it. Even though it is programming, that programming is also highly influenced by things such as your emotional state, diet, activity level, medical conditions, sleep, even weather. In other words your pain threshold varies over the course of a day, and certainly over a lifetime. It is for this reason that pain is NOT a MEASUREMENT of your health status. It is an INDICATOR . This is why I can’t use it as a measurement of your health. Let me give you an example.
Jerry has chest pain that gets worse when he is emotionally stressed, when he exerts himself, when he has had a poor night’s sleep, and when he drinks too much coffee. When he is calm he may have no pain at all. These are his symptoms or subjective findings based upon his own personal pain thresholds. His cardiologist discovers 90% occlusion of 2 arteries in Jerry’s heart. His EKG is abnormal. His cholesterol is high. While chest pain is a bad indicator and no chest pain is a good indicator, it would be beyond stupid to use chest pain as a measurement of the status of the underlying cause of Jerry’s chest pain, which in this case is heart disease.
And so it is with the spine. Back and related pains such as neck pain, headaches, arm/leg pain are indicators, not measurements. The thresholds for these pains will vary with the time of day, emotions, diet, sleep, exercise, too much coffee, not enough wine, weather, etc. That is why we MUST use measurements, not indicators to know how your spine is doing. Range of motion, inflammation levels(TSV), and complicating factors, as you know, are the three measurements I use to monitor the health of your spine. I never use your pain to measure your spine, just as I never use my pain to measure my spine. It is bad doctoring to ever use an indicator as a measurement tool.
Having said that, just like Jerry is certainly welcome to use his chest pain as a measurement and ignore his doctor, you too can use your back pain as a measurement and ignore your doctor. The consequence for Jerry is his life. The consequence for you is your mobility. I can only speak for myself when I say that my future mobility as I move into my 60’s and beyond IS my life, and I plan to hold on to as much of it as I can. What about you?