Roughly 130 million adult Americans suffer from chronic pain. For most of these people, the reason is simple: They don’t know what is causing their pain. And if they don’t know the cause, they can’t make it stop.

Pain is part of the body’s protective mechanism. Its purpose is to create conscious awareness of a tissue is in distress. Once you are aware of the pain, the goal is to identify the tissue generating the pain and then do something to resolve it. Once the cause of the distress is resolved, the body no longer has to emit the protective pain signal and pain ceases.

With this understanding of the pain process, it should be clear that the only way to truly relieve pain is to properly identify the tissue that is in distress and resolve the cause of the distress, period. Any attempt to simply address the pain itself does nothing to resolve the cause of pain signals being ignited. Cortisone shots, epidural nerve blocks, prescription pain medication, radiofrequency ablation or rhizotomy may provide temporary relief, but only addressing pain relief prolongs the distress of the affected tissue.

Proper diagnostics must be employed to identify the correct source of the problem. If a tissue is identified and treatment performed and yet the pain continues after the procedure, then it’s most likely that the wrong tissue was treated. This accounts for the failings of surgeries performed on structural variations, such as herniated discs, spinal stenosis or arthritis, found by MRIs or X-rays. The fact that the diagnosis “failed back surgery syndrome” had to be instituted to account for those getting spinal surgery for back pain is a harsh and enlightening example of the wrong tissue being treated.

To identify the right tissue, my method promotes the idea that the body’s presentation of symptoms is the best way to interpret and identify which tissue is responsible for those symptoms. Just as pain at the left chest and arm is a very specific symptom for heart attack, bones, nerves and muscles also create very specific symptoms. Altered posture like hunching, excessive arching of the back or an elevated hip are all keys to identifying muscle as the cause of pain. Symptoms that are associated with performing functional activities like negotiating stairs, kneeling, prolonged sitting, or reaching, are also strong indicators that the tissue in distress is muscle. In fact, my more than two decades of experience has shown that in more than 95% of cases, the cause of pain is associated with a muscular deficit.

If you can accept the most basic understanding that people experience pain as part of the body’s protective mechanism to make you aware of a tissue in distress, you are on your way to being able to identify the cause of the pain and address it, not simply ease the symptom of pain. The next and most important step is using the right diagnostic method to identify the offending tissue. Unfortunately, common diagnostic tests have failed on a massive scale. In future blog posts, I’ll show you how you can employ my Yass Method to interpret your body’s presentation of symptoms and understand –and relieve—the root cause of your pain.

Click here to buy Mitchell Yass’s books,The Yass Method for Pain-Free Movement: A Guide to Easing through Your Day without Aches and Pains, or check out his website.

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