How do you think about pain? 🤔 💭
🦵🏾 💥 Does it make you think of a purely physical problem, or have you ever considered that there might be other factors that can influence our experience of pain?
It was previously thought that the process of pain was a fairly linear model where the body and the mind functioned separately. Simply put, pain was believed to be a result of stimulus to a nerve that conveyed information to the brain about potential tissue damage and that was pretty much it.
We now know that we actually experience 𝗽𝗮𝗶𝗻 𝗮𝘀 𝗮 𝗿𝗲𝘀𝘂𝗹𝘁 𝗼𝗳 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗲𝘅 𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗯𝗶𝗼𝗹𝗼𝗴𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹, 𝗽𝘀𝘆𝗰𝗵𝗼𝗹𝗼𝗴𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗹 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘀𝗼𝗰𝗶𝗮𝗹 𝗳𝗮𝗰𝘁𝗼𝗿𝘀, which is referred to as the 𝘉𝘪𝘰𝘱𝘴𝘺𝘤𝘩𝘰𝘴𝘰𝘤𝘪𝘢𝘭 𝘮𝘰𝘥𝘦𝘭.
Pain is by it’s very definition “𝘢𝘯 𝘶𝘯𝘱𝘭𝘦𝘢𝘴𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘴𝘦𝘯𝘴𝘰𝘳𝘺 𝗮𝗻𝗱 𝘦𝘮𝘰𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘢𝘭 𝘦𝘹𝘱𝘦𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘯𝘤𝘦” where the suffering component of pain is an emotional response which could be triggered by nociception (the neural process of encoding noxious stimulus) or by some other adverse event associated with it, such as fear or depression (psychological processes).
Think about how pain makes you feel and behave. Avoiding activities or exercises out of fear of injury is part of psychological processing. We also know that our environment and various social factors can influence our experience of pain, for example, other’s reactions or the way they treat us may, in turn, influence the way we feel.
The various processes involved in pain speak to the complexity of it all, but are also very interesting as it provides us with many options on how to go about managing pain.
Next time you experience pain, check in to see:
• what emotions might be present
• how do other’s reactions or words impact the way you feel? (Including your healthcare providers)
• what do you believe is causing your pain and how does that make you feel?
These observations can be helpful to understand why, in the case of persistent pain, some days might be more or less painful than others.