If your pain all in your head? Pain science can give you long-term results

Most people found our work at Square One Active Recovery curious because we truly focus on the whole person rather than just the physical parts.

While some people may think chiropractic is all about being cracked all over the body, we see chiropractic as something much bigger than that. Instead of seeing chiropractor as crack-my-spine service providers, we like to see chiropractors as a health professional that can provide true, long-term pain solution.

In order to facilitate this, we frequently turn to the latest research to give our client the best possible clinical care.

What is pain science?

Pain science, at its simplest definition, is the study of pain. It is huge! And often not intuitive.

For example, we now know quite definitively that pain doesn’t equal damage. And also damage doesn’t equal pain. That means you can have pain without any injury whatsoever. And you can have an injury without actually feeling pain.

Because of the changes in our understanding of pain, new treatment methods are constantly being developed. For example, cognitive behavioural therapy is now considered one of the first line treatments for back pain.

Pain Reprocessing Therapy

chiropractor singapore, pain solution

Because of the huge body of research point to that chronic pain is NOT physical injury, there’s a fair bit of effort to push for non-physical approaches to managing chronic payment.

Pain Reprocessing Therapy for low back pain is a new treatment that just recently surfaced. A paper published in September this year found it to provide substantial and lasting pain relief for low back pain sufferers.

In their study, participants consulted with a doctor and received eight psychological treatments over four weeks. Under the programme, participants reconceptualised their pain to be non-dangerous rather than to think of it as an injury.

Over 66% of the participants were pain-free or nearly pain-free by the end of the treatment.

While we don’t offer psychological treatments at our clinic, our approach to addressing chronic pain does heavily emphasise education. In doing so, we do encourage our clients to re-consider their pain experiences, and that pain doesn’t equal damage.

By changing your thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and feelings towards your pain experience, we can help you manage it.

Is there damage in chronic pain?

foot stepping on lego, pain science

Lancet was very clear in that there is extremely unlikely for tissue damage to contribute to a patient’s chronic pain experience.

To a very large extend, you can say that your pain is all in your head. This is true for all pain instances! Afterall, pain is a phenomenological experience. It can only exist in your head.

If your knees hurt because you trip and fall, this pain only exists in your head. If you go for a massage and you are experiencing pain from the pressure, this pain also only exists in your head.

The truth is all of our pain are all in our heads.

Why then do we experience pain?

When it comes to chronic pain, current researchers believe that it is a case of the brain’s misplaced effort to protect us from danger.

It’s important to understand that your brain is neuroplastic. That is it can change over time. Because of its neuroplasticity, it could be unintendedly taught that certain circumstances are “dangerous” even when they are actually not.

For example, if you were to sprain your ankle, it will hurt and you may start to walk funny for a few weeks. During this few weeks, you change your gait pattern to deliberately avoid the movements that hurt. It is possible that behaviours like this could unintentionally teach your brain that those movements are “bad”. Overtime, you may experience ankle pain every time you are in the position, even after the tissues have completely healed!

In this instance, you may experience ankle pain even though your ankle tissue, from a physical perspective, is completely healthy.

Is it possible for there to be a physical aspect to chronic pain?

who physical activity guideline, functional training singapore
150 minutes of aerobic exercise alone may not be good enough for you The World Health Organisation WHO clearly recommends at least 2 days of muscle strengthening activity

100% yes!

Many Singaporeans experience back pain and neck pain. For most of these cases, there are no physical injury or damage involved. However, that doesn’t mean there are no physical contributors.

World Health Organisation recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise and 2 days of strength training every week. Most Singaporeans do not exercise enough to meet this recommendation!

It is possible for a sedentary lifestyle to contribute to chronic pain. Without exercise, the muscles and joints in our body become understimulated and their capacity may reduce overtime. This could be more of the potential contributors to your symptom experience.

This is why virtually all clinical guidelines would recommend exercise as first line treatment for you recovery.

What should I do now?

instant pain solution, chiropractic adjustment

It’s super important to remember that research at this stage points to exercise being the best treatment for your chronic pain.

If you have been seeking passive treatments such as chiropractic adjustments and massage to no avail, it may be worth considering something different.

The other upside of using exercise as your recovery strategy is that you don’t have to be reliant on us forever. We use an education + exercise approach at our practice. This means once you are better, you would be able to self-manage your future episodes.




Frustrated by the lack of results-driven and ethical chiropractic clinics in Singapore, Chiropractor Jesse Cai found Square One Active Recovery to deliver meaningful and sustainable pain solutions.

Our goal? To make our own services redundant to you.

*We do not offer temporary pain relief such as chiropractic adjustments, dry needling, or any form of soft tissue therapy.