We are happy to introduce the first article in a series of articles on pain. First up: Pain and the Brain!!
Pain is often defined as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage. The latest and greatest research shows that education and understanding can be one of the primary steps in the management of pain! The power of the brain should not be underestimated.
1) Pain is a survival mechanism with a purpose of protecting the body.
2) If you feel pain, your central nervous system thinks the body is under threat.
3) Pain is an output of the brain, not an input from the body. In other words, pain perception is created by the brain!
4) Pain is not an accurate measurement of the amount of tissue damage in an area.
5) If you are in pain, you are not always hurt. If you are hurt, you will not necessarily feel pain. Example: this is the soldier that is shot in battle, but doesn’t feel pain until after! This is also the person that is in a minor car accident, and later feels pain.
6) Pain does not equal tissue damage. Numerous studies report damage to the spine, discs and rotator cuff on MRI, but are pain-free!
7) The brain will often perceive danger or pain even when there is no danger. Think phantom limb pain.
8)The longer pain is present, the easier it is to feel pain. In other words, the more the brain uses a certain neural pathway, the easier it becomes to use that same pathway.
9) Neurons that fire together wire together. Emotional states like anger, depression and anxiety will reduce tolerance to pain. Your brain can relate your environment to pain. Example: Your pain went away on vacation, and returned upon your return!
10) Your spinal cord and its protective sheath, the dura, lengthens by 7mm when you touch your toes!
11) The nervous system is blood thirsty! 25% of your hearts output (blood pumped) goes to feed the nervous system! Movement is important!
12) Nerves need three things: Movement, Space and Blood!