UNDERSTANDING PAIN

A little basic information about pain:

Nociceptive pain is when the nerve picks up a signal about an injury and transport that signal to the central nervous system. The signal may contain information about a tear in skin or tissue, sores, dryness, infection or inflammation. Common to nociceptive pain is that it often responds well to painkillers. The pain is typically felt as dull, nagging, gnawing, throbbing, and aching.

Neuropathic pain is when the nerves are damaged or don’t act normally. The nerves may be entrapped or dysfunctional. It might be harm from an earlier injury to tissue ie. scar tissue causing pain. The pain is typically experienced as burning, biting, stinging, tightening, cutting, chilling, and haunting.

Acute pain occurs suddenly, e.g. when skin and tissue are damaged or your muscles cramp up.  Generally, acute pain is perceived to be the result of external damage to tissue such as the infliction of a wound or the development of an infection. The pain is a warning to take care or slow down. The pain will typically stop when the body heals or restores itself.    

Chronic pain does not stop and typically lasts for more than 6 months.  This type of pain frequently causes widespread problems for those who experience it and it requires a lot of energy and often deprivation of sleep. Chronic pain will often drive people to change their lifestyle in order to accommodate the limitations the pain has placed upon them.

WHY PAIN?

Pain is a mechanism to protect us against danger. If you placed your hand on a hot stove, the experience of pain will make you remove your hand. Your pain messages are a signal to act and remove yourself from the pain source.

In a fun and entertaining way the biochemical mechanisms of pain is being explained.  

UNDERSTANDING THE PHYSIOLOGY

Your sense of touch informs the brain about your body’s condition. The message of pain you get through sensors in your tissues can detect temperature, pressure, stretch, and pain. Impulses move through your nerves to your spine and up to the brain, which interprets the messages and, in return, develops an action message to have the body react.

Not all nerve messages reach the brain, some are determined to be unhelpful and the brain decides to ignore them. For example, we shut down the pain when a band-aid is removed. We tell ourselves that it has no meaning, the bandage has to come off,  it is not a big deal and it is no threat.  

FAULTS IN THE SYSTEM

Unfortunately, there may be errors in the pain system. The information system can be lazy. For example, if you have poor posture or hunch over your computer screen all day, your brain will at first send messages telling you to “Move!” Most people, however, ignore these messages and continue to slouch. After repeatedly trying to send messages to get you to move, your brain essentially gives up and a bad habit is born.

The system can become overactive as well. A system error could result in the sending of too many pain impulses to the brain. A pinch will feel like tearing your skin and a tap feels like a knockout punch. The explanation may be that too many nerve endings have been activated and they all send impulses to the brain, overwhelming it. Another reason may be that the pain gates cannot close and stop the message from being registered in the brain or that the brain is hypersensitive to these impulses. Yet another explanation may be that the nerve endings are located in the outermost layer of the skin and therefore pick up too many signals.

Basically, there is much we do not know about pain, research is, however, attempting to uncover more about how it works.

 

REWIRING THE BRAIN

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