The Thought Virus

Written by: Dean Liuzzi
Published: June 19, 2023

Pain as we know is one of the most frustrating things that we deal with and most of the time we don’t know why we get pain or can’t exactly work out what we have done to cause it. This is an all too common thing that we see with many of our clients and more often than not there is a variety of factors that contribute such as:

  • Natural healing process
  • Done more activity than previously (more exercise, increase in work hours, more cleaning at home, increased gardening, etc)
  • Muscle soreness following new activity (such as a new exercise routine or more challenging exercises)
  • Muscle guarding/protective mechanisms occurring to protect a current injury or previous injury
  • Increased stress, poor sleep pattern, etc

Do you fall into any of the umbrella catergories? If not, that’s okay there is also a separate thing altogether that may be causing or explaining why you might be getting random, sporadic or unexplained incidences of pain.

Pain is complex we don’t always have an answer for what might be going on. Sometimes thinking over what we have done in the last week or new activities could be a simple answer. Sometimes this isn’t the case. The image above highlights what we call “Thought Viruses”. These are real thoughts that we get regarding certain activities, fear of re-injury or doing an activity that may lead to a response from our body that causes pain. You probably have been told it’s in your head and you should ignore it. Right? Yes, it is in fact in your head because your brain has adapted and your body reacts a certain way to a response that it determines as threatening or may cause harm, No you shouldn’t ignore it because this actually real and happening and needs to be addressed to:

  1. provide reassurance to yourself about what is going on,
  2. give you some clarity on these thoughts, fears, and worries that are contributing to your pain.

Our body when it’s in pain and is easily triggered and very sensitive. Inputs back into the brain are judged by our brain as threat/dangerous and potential to cause harm, this can be enough to just cause the pain alone.

There is no simple tool to manage these, acknowledging what they are and they do exist is the first step, from there it’s working on implementing strategies of how to manage the pain and getting you towards meaningful goals that you want to achieve.