Understanding Pain: Why do we “pick the scab?”

Understanding Pain: Why do we “pick the scab?”

Our chiropractors in Woodbury, MN, will help you get back to the activities you love through proper movement and strengthening exercises your spine needs!

An excerpt from Back Mechanic by Stuart McGill PhD “Many back pain sufferers would experience a huge breakthrough in their recovery if they only realized that it was their flawed movement patterns that kept them pain-sensitive. Much like a scab forming on our skin, our backs are constantly trying to patch and heal themselves. We, however, by continuing to repeat harmful movement patterns in our daily lives cause re-injury. We are essentially “picking the scab.” It is unreasonable to expect the body to heal if we continue to provoke it in the same way that led to the original injury. Continued provocation of pain sensitizes the nerves so that the pain is triggered with even less stimulation. Remove the provocative motions and we can find the solution. 

Our chiropractors in Woodbury, MN, focus on finding these solutions every day.  We need your help to not “pick the scab” and to replace those activities with healthy movement patterns.  You cannot expect different results if you are performing the same movements that caused them!  Muscles, joints, ligaments, tendons, and nerves are all centered around movement! Yes, all of them!  If we remove the muscle imbalance, joint dysfunction, and faulty movement patterns, and add healthy exercise, movement, nutrition and recover properly; you will move better!  Our Woodbury chiropractors at MN Spine and Sport are here to help you every step of the way!

A Quick Lecture from your Trusted Chiropractors in Woodbury, MN?

Here’s how pain sensitivity works: people increase their sensitivity through repeated stressful and painful loading. It is called central sensitization. Muscles and joints are loaded with sensors: pain sensors, pressure sensors, force sensors, chemical sensors. Some detect carbon dioxide; some detect pain, some sense histamine for inflammation. Human joints are packed with sensors that relay position and movement information to the brain. These signals travel along the sensory nerves. Along the highway of nerves, there are checkpoints or “gates,” at junctions. According to the Gate Theory of Pain, the idea is, to flood the checkpoint with “good information,” in other words, signals associated with pain-free movement. In this way, there is no more room for the pain signals as they are crowded out. 

Pro tip from our chiropractors in Woodbury, MN: close your eyes and find the tip of your nose with your finger like in a roadside sobriety test. You are using kinesthetic sensory organs that run throughout your arm to navigate. These sensors alert the brain as to the position of your forefinger in relation to your nose. The sensation of this simple pain-free motion dominates the information traffic on your sensory nerves with feel-good kinesthetic sensory information that identifies position, length, and force. 

Finding and repeating pain-free motions in your back will cause the remaining painful activities to hurt less. Read the previous sentence again – it really is that important. 


By discovering and engraining positive movements for your back, you will find that the pain often dissipates and then disappears entirely. This is because when we remove pain triggers and stop “picking the scab” we give our tissues a chance to rest, heal and regenerate. Simultaneously our sensors for pain are actually being desensitized. Master this, and you have mastered your back pain. 

For those of you that have a known type of injury, a name to attach to your condition, your personal recovery strategy should always begin with avoiding the aggravating positions for your unique spine is key to getting yourself back on track. We are all different, so different strategies will work for different people.  That said, our chiropractors in Woodbury, MN, offer a multitude of treatment methods and modalities to get you moving and out of pain as fast as possible!

You’re on your way to learning the secrets of a pain-free lifestyle! Let’s make it happen!