Pain is a protective warning sign for us to protect our body from being harmed but it doesn’t mean that when we have pain, we have tissue damage. It’s a brain thing.
Let me explain …
Inside our brain we have a map of our body and it’s the way our brain commands and controls everything. When we have a local trauma, for example on the left arm, the brain recognises it and sends the tissues the signs of pain, so we can distance ourselves from the cause of the injury and also send the proper cells to heal it. This is what we want to happen, and it’s called acute pain.
The “problem” is when our left arm is still in pain after several weeks after the injury, more than the time necessary to cure the tissues… or after years following the original trauma, our left arm starts paining for no apparent reason. It happens because our central nervous system is overprotecting our left arm, and now we have what we call chronic pain.
The chronicity of the pain sensation or a flare up of pain happens because our brain is in a heightened state of alert to any situation that recalls the original trauma. Again, we don’t have the tissue damage anymore, but the brain reacts as if there were actual damage to the tissues.
Some of the triggers for the flare ups can be anxiety, stress, or having the same sensations we had at the time of trauma.
When patients present signs of chronic pain, we as practitioners, need to educate the patient and help them to re-train their brain, reducing this extreme alert situation. That’s why sometimes when a patient books an appointment the pain suddenly gets better (brain reaction: finally, this body is seeking help, now I can relax a bit!).
Persistent pain is a sign that something needs to be addressed. Are you in pain? Book your appointment!