Why Do We Feel Pain?
Posted on 31st March 2022 at 16:43
Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience that’s usually associated with actual or even potential tissue damage. It allows the body to react to and prevent further tissue damage.
Pain can be multifactorial, which means that for each individual person it can present differently. The way in which we experience pain can depend on physical health, genetics, beliefs and attitudes around: pain/injury, work, family and relationships.
Pain is felt when nerves called nociceptors detect tissue damage and then transmit this information along the spinal cord to the brain. An example of this would be touching a hot surface; the nociceptors will send a message through the reflex arc in the spinal cord to the brain, which will then send a message to the muscles to immediately contract. This contraction will pull the hand away from the hot surface therefore preventing further damage.
Types of pain
There are two types of pain: acute and chronic.
Acute pain is generally intense and is short-lived. It’s how the body alerts the person to an injury or localised tissue damage. Treating the underlying injury normally resolves the acute pain. Acute pain can trigger the body’s flight or fight response, therefore increasing heart and breathing rates.
Chronic pain is the type of pain that lasts a long time. It can be classified as mild or severe and can be continuous, such as arthritis, or intermittent, like migraines. The fight and flight response reaction stops in people that suffer from chronic pain, as the sympathetic nervous system that triggers these responses adapts to the pain stimulus.
There are a number of different ways to describe pain. These include:
Neuropathic Pain – this pain occurs following injury to the peripheral nerves that connect the brain and the spinal cord to the rest of the body. It can feel like electric shocks, numbness, tingling or general discomfort.
Central Pain – this type of pain occurs due to abscesses, tumours, degeneration or bleeding in the brain and spinal cord. Central pain is ongoing, ranging from mild to extremely severe. People with central pain report burning, aching, and pressing sensations.
Phantom Pain – this pain occurs after the amputation of a limb. It refers to painful sensations that feel as though they are coming from the missing limb.
However, like it was stated above pain can be a response to ‘potential’ damage. Sometimes increased pain doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s any further damage to the actual body.
For example, if you fell over and sprained your ankle you would probably feel it. However, if you fell over and sprained your ankle and then a car starts driving directly towards you, would your pain levels remain the same? Or would your emotional response change? And would this then change your pain experience?
The implications of life without pain
But could you imagine a life without pain?
There would be a number of implications if you could indeed live life without pain.
- If you suffer an injury and do not feel pain, the chances of making the injury worse and chronic are increased.
- If you break a bone, you may not be aware, and the break may lead to a poorly healed bone or a permanent lack of healed bone.
- If you suffer internal trauma to your organs, you may not be aware of it.
- You may not seek medical treatment when you need it.
So, pain plays an important role in identifying injury and aiding recovery.
Pain is a product of physical, emotional, and social interactions and is unique to us. It’s there to protect us and should be respected, understood, and definitely not feared. Your mind plays a vital role in your pain, which is why some mothers choose hypnobirthing as a way to reduce the pain felt during childbirth.
If you’re suffering from pain and would like to book a massage to relieve your symptoms, get in touch today and our team will be happy to help you.
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