Pain everyone gets it, its a inevitable part of life however what really is it? Did you know 20% of the people on the planet are in pain at the same moment. How does it work? Why do some people have a completely different experience of pain then they have the same injury? People often talk about chronic pain this is pain that continues for more than 3 months whereas acute pain is pain that has just occurred.
This is a topic I am very passionate about, the main pain pathways explained and some of the problems when they can go wrong, is what happened to me. CRPS is a chronic pain condition, most of my rehab involved retraining my pain pathways in numerous of different ways to get me back on track.. enough about me, Here is a guide to the basics of pain.
What is Pain?
Pain is an output of danger, your body way of letting you know you are hurt or injured to try and prevent it from getting worse. If your brain thinks your body is in danger it will work as a warning system and cause you pain however small the threat maybe. The pain you experience doesn’t always have to be proportional to the damage for example getting a paper cut is not life threatening but it definitely hurts. In my case my leg became so sensitive that even the wind, water, cotton wool gave me the most excruciating pain. I ended up having a plaster cast to sleep in for a while as the bed sheets causes so much pain. However it works the other way with people have life threatening conditions like cancer but having no symptoms or people feeling no pain straight after a car crash.
It is not as simple to just say pain is an output of the brain. Often it’s seen as an experience its normally always individual and involves a story. You may not want to think pain is necessary however remembering the time you hit your head on the cupboard or running on wet floor certainly does help to prevent you doing form hurting yourself again.
Lower Back Pain is an interesting one as it is well documented that the amount of damage on a scan for example a fully prolapsed disc squashing many nerves may never cause the patient any pain. This is something I always explain to my patients before they have any imaging.
Background and Context of pain
The background and context into the pain makes a difference to the pain experience a minor injury to your finger will mean different things to a pianist than to a footballer. Your brain will rank the areas that you use more in your daily life higher as more important and therefore will generally be more sensitive as your body will want to protect them first.
The same goes for your mood or emotion at the time if you having a bad day a minor pain can feel a lot worse. Also it has been proven that unexplained or lack of knowledge to why your in pain can also increase the pain that you may experience. The speed of the injury can also make a difference if the injury occurs over a period of time your body may not consider it as much as a threat as a sudden event like a fracture.
You can download this guide at: The A State of Health Clinic’s Website.