Suddenly, I have pain. What should I do?

We have all been there. Suddenly, a jolt of pain comes from your shoulder, neck, elbow lower back or knee without warning or cause. Previously, an activity you didn't think twice about, now becomes the biggest worry and challenge of your day. Simple things, such as sleeping, climbing stairs or even typing might become a challenge.

Our minds race. What could be the cause? Is this a sign of something larger? What is wrong with me? How can I make it better?

However difficult, the best approach is not to panic. Despite being very limiting due to pain, most incidences of pain involving the muscles and joints are self-limiting. That means that eventually your body will heal itself and you will not experience the limitations of the pain. If you take a proactive stance and manage it in the correct way, you might even stimulate this process to happen quicker and thereby guide an effective recovery.

The first question to pop-up will always be, what caused this pain? Although there is no trauma to the structures, physiologically speaking, there might be an increase in inflammation in that area. Meaning that there is internal swelling, putting pressure on those structures and in the process triggering your pain responses. One might say, but nothing changed, how come this suddenly happened? And that is why the answer to this question is so complex. Pain is influenced by many factors. The biopsychosocial model reminds us to think not only of biological factors, but also psychological and social that might contribute to the pain. Even if you haven't fallen recently or done a heavy workout, your pain might be caused by increased stress at work or home, little contact with friends or even changes to your mood.