Do you suffer from pain - a bad back perhaps, sciatica, aching neck and shoulders, or recovering from injury? Do you find it difficult to strengthen your core no matter how much you try? Do you suffer from scoliosis? Do you have a bad posture or issues with your gait? Do you struggle with insomnia, or travel so much your body clock is out of sync? These are some of the things that I treat as an AMN practitioner.
What is Applied Movement Neurology?
The AMN system incorporates functional neurology, functional biomechanics, functional and integrative medicine and quantum physics. The human body is a bioelectrical signalling system with the intra and extra cellular matrices being the structure and medium of body wide cell to cell communication, and our brain and nervous system reads and responds to this information. When we suffer, for example, an injury, the current travelling through the damaged tissues is increased in comparison to non-damaged tissues. This positive voltage triggers metabolic and neurological activity to heal the injury. Where this increased charge fails to normalise, the brain can struggle to read the signals correctly and dysfunction can occur.
What is pain ?
Pain is a complex topic and one that is still being extensively researched. It is experienced differently by everyone because ultimately it is the interpretation of sensory stimuli. The brain contains approximately 86 billion neurons, meaning the possible combination of connections between these neurons is almost infinite.
What exactly, from a neurobiological perspective, is pain?
the pain that is an early-warning physiological protective system, essential to detect and minimize contact with damaging or noxious stimuli. This is the pain we feel when touching something too hot, cold, or sharp for example. The neurobiological apparatus that generates nociceptive pain evolved from the capacity of even the most primitive of nervous systems to signal impending or actual tissue damage from environmental stimuli. Its protective role demands immediate attention and action, which occur by the withdrawal reflex it activates, the intrinsic unpleasantness of the sensation elicited, and the emotional anguish it engages. Nociceptive pain presents itself as something to avoid now, and when engaged, the system overrules most other neural functions.
This pain is caused by activation of the immune system by tissue injury or infection - indeed, pain is one of the cardinal features of inflammation. It is also adaptive and protective. By heightening sensory sensitivity after unavoidable tissue damage, this pain assists in the healing of the injured body part by creating a situation that discourages physical contact and movement. Pain hypersensitivity, or tenderness, reduces further risk of damage and promotes recovery, as after a surgical wound or in an inflamed joint, where normally innocuous stimuli now elicit pain.
Pain that is not protective, but maladaptive, resulting from abnormal functioning of the nervous system. This is not a symptom of some disorder but rather a disease state of the nervous system, it can occur after damage to the nervous system (neuropathic pain), but also in conditions in which there is no such damage or inflammation (dysfunctional pain). Conditions that evoke dysfunctional pain include fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, tension type headache, temporomandibular joint disease, and other syndromes in which there exists substantial pain but no noxious stimulus and no, or minimal, peripheral inflammatory pathology.
By analogy, if pain were a fire alarm, the nociceptive type would be activated appropriately only by the presence of intense heat, the inflammatory pain would be activated by warm temperatures, and pathological pain would be a false alarm caused by malfunction of the system itself. The net effect in all three cases is the sensation we call pain.
One thing that is true across the entire human race is that pain is a conscious experience. There can be an abundance of noxious stimuli within the system with no pain, but there can be no pain without conscious awareness.
When someone wakes up with pain that wasn’t there the day before, they naturally look for rational reasons as to ‘what they did’ to create it. They don’t remember any impact, a particular injury or action so assume they must have slept funny! Truth be told, the day pain decides to make itself present may have more to do with what you haven’t dealt with, rather than anything you’ve done.
If we fall over and hurt ourselves, pain is an acceptable outcome of apparent damage to the tissues. “My knee hurts because I tripped and slammed it onto the pavement.” The wound heals, your movement gradually returns to normal and that’s the end of the story.
Pain that seemingly comes out of nowhere could possibly be linked to an old injury but has never actually cleared, or it recurs and perhaps has even become chronic and this type of pain is not so easily rationalised.
At AMN, we currently believe that any pain complaint not related to impact injury or tissue damage can be classified as an effect of altered homeostasis. It is the conscious perception of sub-conscious, autonomic imbalances.
Just as the proliferation of illness or disease can be gradual and develop in stages; strange, unexplained and often persistent pain complaints are the culmination of several systems miss-communicating.
This kind of faulty communication can occur between any or all of the layers of the somatic nervous system (movement system), the visuomotor and vestibular (balance) systems, the enteric nervous system (gut and other viscera), endocrine system (hormones), immune (host defence system) and limbic system (emotional brain).
No system in the entire brain and body works in isolation.