Hurt vs. Harm: which pain is good and which is bad?

Hurt vs. Harm: which pain is good and which is bad?

Most people assume that all pain must be bad; not the case. There are many things that hurt us, but are not necessarily harmful. Whereas, there are also many things that do not necessarily hurt, but may actually be quite harmful to our health. In fact, some things that hurt may actually be beneficial to our health and it is often our fear of this beneficial pain that prevents full recovery from an injury.

With the warm weather upon us, many individuals will increase their physical activity. Whether you are more active due to sports, your work or household tasks, it is important to take into consideration which things are only hurting you and are okay and which may be harmful and lead to injury.

Take for example, a simple movement that occurs in all of the above mentioned activities, bending forward. We have all bent down to pick something up or spent a period of time bent forward during some tasks or activity. As the bending occurs (assuming there is no current injury), there is very little hurt or pain associated with the movement. However, many spine related injuries occur due to this potentially harmful movement. As we bend forward, a phenomenon known as creep occurs to the soft tissue structures in the spine which will at some point fatigue those structures, making a back injury more likely to occur.

On the other hand, let us use the example of getting active with a structured exercise program. Many exercises hurt while they are being performed, but will have long term benefit to your health. Many of us have experienced soreness after preforming some type of sport or activity. This pain is referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness. This type of soreness is not harmful (but is painful) and indicates that the muscle is adapting to prevent further damage if that same exercise is repeated. Essentially, the muscle is becoming stronger.

It is important to understand these examples of hurt vs. harm are not absolute rules. There are many incidents where hurt can and does equal harm. So, how do you know what will only hurt you and what will harm you and how to distinguish? Well, it depends. Each individual and their specific complaint/ injury will differ.

If you have sustained an injury from a motor vehicle accident, work accident, sport injury or are just experiencing pain, it is important to find a healthcare professional who will address hurt vs. harm specifically for you. That professional will take all relevant information about you and your complaint and educate you on harmful things to avoid. That professional will also provide rehabilitative exercises, which will likely hurt, but will not be harmful and in fact have long-term benefit towards your prognosis and further prevention. This is where you do not have to fear the pain from these helpful exercises and follow through with the program to achieve full recovery.

Dr. Luigi Nalli is a licensed primary healthcare professional with a special interest in pain management. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Activity and Health, a Doctorate in Chiropractic and certifications in Medical Acupuncture. He is the Clinical Director of Humber Family Chiropractic, Rehabilitation & Wellness, a multidisciplinary clinic healthcare professionals including: Chiropractors, Medical Doctors/ Specialists, Naturopathic Doctors, Chiropodists, Occupational Therapists, Massage Therapists and Kinesiologists dedicated to pain management and overall wellness. The organization has two locations, one being a Rehabilitation Centre at a 20, 000 square foot, fully equipped, fitness facility (Fitness 365) where he and his team lead patients through exercise rehabilitation. To find out more about the organization go to and follow their social media for daily health tips and updates.

By: Dr. Luigi Nalli

2017-04-18T19:53:42+00:00 May 5th, 2014|Outreach|