For as common as it is, pain is still a mystery to scientists and researchers, let alone the rest of us. One of the hardest concepts to explain is that pain is not a specific message that gets sent from the body to the brain via nerves. Rather, the brain interprets the sensory data coming in from the body as pain. In this way, dealing with chronic pain is about more than just healing the body.
Often, as I work with clients dealing with chronic pain, it feels like we’re chasing something that’s one step ahead. When the body suffers from chronic pain, it’s as if the filter in the brain that catches sensory input and data from the world becomes too sensitive, and in a way overreacts to the input. That doesn’t mean that the pain doesn’t exist, and it doesn’t mean that the pain is in the brain. It means that pain is much more complex than we ever imagined.
Recovering from chronic pain – pain that’s lasted 6 months or more – can be a long, complicated process. We’re just now beginning to understand that chronic pain is affected by mental health, diet, and exercise in addition to many other factors. Pain centers across the country often recruit doctors and specialists in many different fields in order to treat chronic pain and help the nervous system retrain itself back to a normal sensitivity level.
This video gives a wonderful and accessible explanation of pain and its interconnection to the body and the mind. If you deal with chronic pain, or know someone who does, please share this blog post with them. I know from personal experience chronic pain makes you feel helpless and out of control. But this video gives me an excellent resource to share with clients dealing with chronic pain and it helps me remember what it takes to stay well, too.
Photo credit: Flickr.com CCL – User Alex E Proimos