It’s all in your head: Explaining your pain

by (Physiotherapist)

Aron Lee Ralston survived a canyoning accident in 2003, by amputating his own right forearm with a dull pocketknife in order to extricate himself from a dislodged boulder, under which he had been trapped for over five days. After freeing himself, he had to rappel down a 20 m sheer cliff face to reach safety.
(Aron Ralson. In Wikipedia. Retrieved February 13, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aron_Ralston)

WHAT?!

Ever wondered how anyone could possibly cut off their own limb without anesthetic?

Have you ever experienced pain just by thinking about a past experience?

Does your pain increase with stress?

Ever experienced pain more than 3 months after an injury?

The more research is conducted, the more professionals recognize that pain is a lot more complex than once thought. This may surprise you, but there is no direct link between an injury and the experience of pain. Sure, if you step on a nail you will break your skin and release a whole lot of chemicals and toxins that tell your brain you’ve been injured and that it hurts. BUT, what if you stepped on a nail just after winning the lottery? What if you stepped on the nail after having a bad day at work? Will your pain experience change? The brain is a powerful organ that interprets each situation based on additional information such as past experience, priorities, emotions and expectations.

Most injuries take around three months to heal – so what’s the deal with ‘chronic pain’? Our brain keeps a memory bank of the activities, sensations and emotions that we experience. It also has a map of every inch of our body. The longer pain sticks around, the more memory is allocated to that body part, and emotions and sensations form stronger and faster links in the brain. The brain becomes extra sensitive and activities that never used to be an issue now seem to cause pain. The brain learns to associate a certain movement or body part with pain.

The GOOD NEWS is the brain is malleable and with appropriate training and exercises can adapt responses. You can begin to take control of your pain. In fact, research shows that just understanding your pain can decrease the connections in the brain associated with a painful experience.

It’s not too late! Come in and speak to one of our therapists to better understand your pain, learn to take control of your pain and ultimately improve your quality of life.

 

by (Physiotherapist) on 20th February 2014 |

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