Physical and Occupational Therapy

What is Pain?


Pain: An unpleasant sensation that can range from mild, localized discomfort to agony. Pain has both physical and emotional components. The physical part of pain results from nerve stimulation. Have anyone ever told you, “Your pain is all in your head.”?  That can be a frustrating statement to hear, but is there any truth to it?  Turns out ALL pain is in your head; at least that’s where it originates. 


You don’t necessarily have pain receptors in your body; they could more accurately be described as nerve alarm receptors.  These receptors let your brain know that there has been an insult or injury to your body and you need to pay attention.  Your brain then decides how much attention this injury deserves and issues a corresponding pain response.


Most of the time this built in mechanism works well, and allows us to stay safe and survive.   What happens when our brain or alarm system gets it wrong, and what should be no threat or a very small threat to our body is turned into a life threatening emergency by our trusted brain??


It is ironic that the organ in charge of distributing effective pain sensations, can’t actually perceive pain itself.   What happens is that this: 


is perceived as feeling like this: .

pain pic1

The fear of pain is worse than the pain itself.  And if your alarm or pain alert system is overly sensitive, this truth can be debilitating.    It’s know as pain catastrophizing and it’s real!  If you’re someone whose pain alert system is in need of  a “reset” and you expect to feel pain more intensely (most likely due to past experience with an overly sensitive alarm system), you likely WILL feel that higher level of pain as compared to someone with a healthy alarm system.  This is why perceived pain level is a poor or at best unreliable indicator of an actual injury.  So what’s the take home?  Your brain doesn’t have to be removed in order to correct this system and restore factory settings!  It is possible to “Control / Alt / Delete” your way to a brain/nervous system reset, and even use your brain to significantly reduce your pain levels!    We’ll get into more depth on how that can be achieved in our next blog post, so be sure to stay tuned.  

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