We are just scratching the surface in our understanding of pain. Pain is multifactorial and can be different from person to person. The Integrated Kinetic Neurology (IKN) seminar was able to take the topic of pain and package it in a way that was easy to understand while providing a different perspective on how our neurology can affect our pain levels and movement capabilities.
One of the major themes that IKN highlights is the concept of the “Fight or Flight” system in our body.
“Our brain is wired for survival. If it perceives something as threatening, it will cause a stress response as a protective mechanism. It does this in the form of pain, stiffness, weakness, etc.”
Our nervous system has to process and give meaning to every input that is received by the body. If we receive poor input in the form of an injury, muscle spasm, poor movement pattern, or poor diet, then our brain will dedicate more resources to this “threat”.
This will lead to a decreased efficiency of our body’s energy and resources for normal functioning (via muscles, organs), and its resiliency to respond to external stressors. Past injuries, stressors, and painful experiences, therefore, involve more energy to move and function at its highest capacity.
The course breaks down the science behind how we process pain and why pain can occur after an injury is already healed or without tissue trauma in the first place.
The neuromatrix theory of pain states that the perception of painful stimuli does not result from the brain’s passive registration of tissue trauma, but from its active generation of subjective experiences through a network of neurons known as the neuromatrix.
Neurotags are a pattern of activity within the nueromatrix. It is a physical linking of neurons created from all of the sensory inputs (vision, hearing, smell, proprioception) at a given moment in time that can lead to sensory outputs such as pain or emotion.
There are many patients who come see us with clean X-rays and MRIs that still have pain and this theory help us understand the mechanisms that cause us to feel pain in the absence of tissue damage.
What IKN does differently than other courses that we have taken is treating the other senses involved in neurotagging, not only movement.
Our brain makes a virtual body map, and with disuse or pain, this map can get “smudged.” By addressing multiple body systems in different environments, we can restore our brain and nervous system’s map creating better awareness and control over movement.
When it comes to manual therapy, IKN highlights neurolymphatic points, which are powerful regions for neurological stimulation which overlap lymphatic vessels and nerve fibers. The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that is part of the immune and circulatory system, integral for clearing the body of toxins and waste. The IKN system highlights how to release (and teach our patients’) how to provide stimulation to these points to provide our body with input to these areas and decrease sensitivity.
The IKN approach has a unique evaluation that addresses this multisystem approach. Outside of the traditional ortho assessment, breathing patterns, dominant and non-dominant vestibular, visual, jaw, and cerebellum are tested.
Overall, we found this course to be an excellent integration of neuroscience to orthopedic and sports rehab. They provided us with unique strategies to improve pain and resiliency to external stressors and to think about how each environment is different for each individual.