Solution or Suffering?

back pain

One of the body’s greatest built-in mechanisms is the ability to feel physical pain.  You may not have ever looked at it this way, but the ability to feel pain is a gift.  If we didn’t feel pain, we would never know that something was wrong.  Or that something we are doing is damaging our body.  Or that we need to get help from someone other than ourselves.  Most people look at pain as a bad thing, or a curse.  As if they were expecting to get through life unscathed.  No way.  No one gets a free pass in life.  We all feel pain at some point.  And that’s a good thing.  Unless we ignore it and it turns into suffering.

What I have noticed is that every one of us has a different tolerance for pain and suffering.  Some people have very little tolerance and seek out help after a seemingly minor injury.  I have had patients who told me, “I bumped my arm over the weekend and it hurts a little, so I just want you to check it to make sure it’s okay.”  They were not feeling too much pain, but wanted to be sure everything was functioning normally so the pain would go away.  In no way did these folks want to suffer.

Then there are many people who will take pain to its highest limits before they seek help.  A lot of people do this. They power through, thinking the pain will disappear on its own, or that they will ignore it until it is really bad. They have a high tolerance for suffering.  Take a former co-worker of mine named Ruth.  We were working together in an office many years ago.  She had terrible back pain and it was obviously very uncomfortable.  Ruth found a chiropractor close to her home and within a few visits, she was feeling much better.  So I was surprised a few weeks later to see her walking around the office very gingerly, really guarding her back.  I asked her what was going on.  Wasn’t she still going to the chiropractor?  She told me, “Well I only have six visits left on my plan, so I want to wait until my pain is really bad before I go back.  It’s ok.”  Really? You can barely walk!  I encouraged her to go back to see the chiropractor, which she did.  Once again, she was feeling better very quickly.  But, her approach didn’t surprise me.  Many people will wait and live with pain until they can no longer bear it.  I do understand that some people have problems that have not been solved yet, and they too are suffering, but not by choice.  I am talking about when someone consciously chooses to put off the solution and lives with their pain.  An old Buddhist proverb says,

“Pain is inevitable.  Suffering is optional.”

We need to re-frame how we look at pain and see it as the perfect mechanism it was designed to be:  a signal that we need to change something or get some help for our problem area. People who approach pain like my friend Ruth, think that suffering with a problem will be okay.  But I look at it this way.  We only get one life.  And we all want to live a long life.  The quality of our days should be just as important as the quantity of our days.

Also, if you are suffering through pain, putting off the solution, you are making a potentially simple problem much worse by forcing your body through movement it cannot tolerate.  When the “Oil change” signal in our car lights up, we can only drive around ignoring it for so long before we risk damaging the engine.  Which is a much worse and more expensive fix than an oil change.  The same thing goes for your body.  We are all going to experience pain.  The quicker we take care of it, the less suffering we have to endure.


Dr. Clare Larkin, DC, CMRP is one of only 9 Certified Matrix Repatterning Practitioners in the United States.  She maintains a practice in New Jersey, where she treats people suffering from many unresolved injuries and symptoms.  For more information, go to and  Dr. Larkin can be reached at 908-930-0628 and

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