What Is Pain?
Everyone knows what pain is right? It’s the unpleasant feeling caused by our nerves, linked to any damage caused to our bodies. The reason why we feel pain evolutionary-wise is as a reaction to prevent further damage to our bodies. But this is only scratching the surface! Pain can last a few minutes or even days! It can stay in 1 part of our body or fluctuate everywhere. Pain is not something that can be measured by science because everyone experiences pain differently and people have different ways of describing pain!
So how exactly does our body communicate pain? We feel pain when our nerve fibers in our body send signals to our brain, then our brain interprets these signals and releases endorphins. When you do any physical activity, for example, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with the receptors in your brain and in return reduces pain and inflammation. Endorphins also trigger positive feelings in the body, similar to that of morphine. But they also work against us and cause pain.
Example: A woman is cooking dinner for her family, but she accidentally touches a hot pan and burns her fingertips. A message is sent to the brain through the reflex arc in the spinal cord. This causes immediate contraction of the muscles, which makes the woman instantly move her fingers away. Once the pain message is received by the brain it will release endorphins and cause immense discomfort.
Is Pain Something You Can Control?
Since pain involves both our minds and bodies, is it possible to be able to learn to control your pain? There has been countless research done on this topic, and most come down to the same conclusion. Mind therapy MAY have the power to relieve our pain by changing the way we perceive it. How you feel pain is influenced by your emotions, personality, and lifestyle. It’s also influenced by past experiences with pain. If you’ve been in pain for a while, your brain may have rewired itself to perceive pain signals even after the signals aren’t being sent anymore. For example, a person who feels pain quite often will have a higher pain threshold. So as mentioned before we said that mind therapy can help, but how? Many Scientists and physicians are starting to believe that pain has much to do with your mind as it does with your actual muscles. Although this study is still not well understood, it looks very promising. As for techniques to help reduce your constant pain, consider the following below.
- Deep Breathing
- Positive thinking
Is Pain Something That Can Be Psychological?
Psychological pain is defined as emotional pain or mental pain. But this isn’t what we are talking about. What we’re asking is if the pain is something our minds can construct? Is it really just in our heads? This type of pain is called Psychogenic pain.
Psychogenic Pain: physical pain that is caused, increased, or prolonged by mental, emotional, or behavioral factors. A headache, back pain, or stomach pain are common examples.
This type of pain is not yet understood very well. We can hear both sides of the spectrum and think they’re right. For example, if you’re scared of heights your mind will go into a panic when visiting a tall building or riding a roller coaster. But once the actual anticipation is over or you have time to get over it, your fear is gone. We can use this same example for pain. If you think it’s going to hurt a lot you will freak out but once you calm your nerves you become brave. I have had many instances where my mentality causes more pain than it should. I have a phobia of needles, I have had many shots in my day. some hurt more than others, but how can this be if I get the SAME shot every time? Maybe your mind has a bigger impact than you think.
What About Bone Pain, How Do I Stop Pain In General?
We learned that pain is something caused by nerves when any part of our body is damaged. But what about bones? Surely bones don’t have nerves running through them so why do we experience immense pain when we break bones? This is indeed false because although bone itself does not have nerves we have nerves running through the interior! The hard, white covering of the bone, which is called the periosteum, is damaged when you break a bone. This is where the nerves and blood vessels usually are. They send the message to the brain, and then you feel pain. The minute you break a bone, your body miraculously starts to fix it. Platelets come across damaged blood vessels, stick to them, and start trapping red blood cells. A clot forms and fills in the gap of the broken bone. This becomes the framework to form new bone and heal the fracture. Meanwhile, the tissue around the broken bone can become inflamed, and the skin will become red. White blood cells take care of the dead cells and germs. Bone cells remove dead parts of the bone and lay new material called a callus. This will inevitably form the true bone and replace the damage.
So How do we stop pain?
Exercise: Everyone knows exercise is very good for our bodies, it makes us strong and keeps us healthy. But it also reduces pain! Have you ever hurt your back due to heavy lifting? What is the first thing an employer will do? prescribe you physical therapy, which is just a fancy way of saying they want you to EXERCISE! This is entirely true because people who exercise maintain a good strong core which in returns improves pain conditions. When we work out our body produces its own version of painkillers called (hey there’s that word again) endorphins! These chemicals interact with your brain receptors and change our perception of pain.
Diet: Diet has a big effect on preventing pain all together for obvious reasons. Everything we eat is used to fuel our bodies, all the nutrients we intake go to our bones, hair, skin, organs, and brain! So it is safe to say that when we eat garbage, we don’t get sufficient nutrients. So what does this mean? bring on the pain! We make ourselves vulnerable to illnesses such as Arthritis, and Fibromyalgia.