Your pain is real, 100%. When acute injuries occur we now understand danger messages are sent through to the spinal cord and up to your brain. It is here your brain evaluates “how dangerous is this really” and if the brain believes it is dangerous enough it will have the outcome of pain and will conclude you need to do
something about it – taking action to protect that area.
Over time, after the injury has undergone the healing process, pain still persists. You may be asking yourself why do I continue to feel pain if my injury is healed? Surely if there is pain, then there must be some kind of damage, right? A handy phrase “hurt” does not mean ‘harm’ – what this means is the pain you feel does not mean you are causing more harm to your body.
With your increased sensitivity over a long period of time with your nervous system can undergo permanent changes. Essentially your nervous system has gone a bit skewwhiff adopting a protection strategy equivalent to an overprotective dog.
Why is the brain so protective?
Unconsciously, several systems come into play such as your emotions, sensory inputs, genetics and beliefs all feed into a memory pattern within your brain, and the brain learns to become really good at experiencing pain and virtually anything can set it off.
Pain that comes and goes
You may find your pain varies from day to day. For example, one day you are very sore and the next you are not. Your pain can also feel worse on days where you have the flu, a sleepless night or you may be under pressure at work or feeling stressed. But when you are feeling fine, maybe you are on holiday or relaxing with friends, and everything is going well you may actually find yourself ‘pain-free’. Being conscious of keeping a positive attitude and having the right mentality, is key to avoiding negative thoughts towards your pain.
Next month we will talk about what tools we can use to help ourselves with living with chronic pain.