Purpose: to provide some information about the pain experience
Why?: Understanding pain can help modify it
I don’t pretend to understand everything about pain. It is incredible complex and what we know is certainly involving. However, there is a lot of misinformation out there even from people that should know better. This article will link to a number of information sites that help explain pain. This is important because it helps you understand why things hurt. Understanding why something hurts can decrease pain but can also help you function better. Some basic concepts:
1. Pain is a perception. Signals (e.g. nociception or even pressure) come from the body and the brain creates an output that we perceive as pain. Ever heard of a soldier being shot and not feeling any pain until they were safe and out of harms way? If pain was some absolute thing that the brain has no choice to recognize than you would have no way but to feel pain any time a tissue was injured. We’ve all heard stories of people being injured but feeling nothing.
2. Your body does not have to be injured to feel pain. In fact you can lose a limb and later feel pain in that limb that no longer exists.
3. Tissue injuries (e.g. disc bulges, rotator cuff tears, tendinopathy) do not have to hurt. The body can have lots of so called “dysfunction” but this does not mean that you will feel pain. For example, 50% of people over fifty may have a rotator cuff tear but they experience no pain.
4. Emotions, beliefs, stress, past experiences etc can influence the pain that you feel. Pain is more than a punch in the arm.
5. The perception of pain can move around in your body and this does not mean that you are crazy. This is a normal finding when we experience persistent pain.
6. Pain changes how we move and how we function. Movement is often the key to resolving pain.
There is so much more than this but I will let the resources below provide better information.
1. The sensitive nervous system (D Butler): a great academic reference
2. Explain Pain (Butler and Moseley): a patient’s guide to pain
3. Painful Yarns: stories from people with pain
1. Neurotopian: Pain for Dummies a great site, you can read this and ignore everything I say.
1. Persistent pain described with pictures
2. Lorimer Moseley: Tedx Talks
3. Peter O’Sullivan explains how our fears and beliefs about our backs change how we move and contribute to the feeling of pain.
All the best,