Pain can occur in many different areas of your body, for example head, back, muscles, joints, and many more. Not only are the areas of pain varied, the manner in which pain is felt varies from one individual to another. Different people can assess the same pain anywhere from mild to “unbearable”. There is, however, agreement on one point: most people who suffer from pain want it to disappear as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately pain is essential

Pain has a vitally important function: it serves as the body’s warning signal. Pain occurs when physical, temperature, chemical, or electrical stimuli exceed a certain threshold, for example when you touch a hot pan. It signals when damage to the body is occurring. Such damage can cause swelling, also referred to as inflammation, which in turn causes pain.

How the body detects pain

When you touch something hot or cut yourself, chemical messages are released which activate pain sensors, called sensory nerves, in your skin. These nerves then pass the pain message to your brain via the spinal cord, which is itself a bundle of nerves. The spinal cord links your brain to all paths of the body and is constantly sending and receiving information. Your brain will then perceive the pain and send messages back to the damaged area sometimes before you know it.
For example, if you burn yourself on a hot stove, your brain will reflexively pull your hand back before the pain is consciously perceived.

Chronic Pain

Pain that is persistent and ongoing, or keeps returning is classified as chronic and usually lasts longer than 6 months. Pain becomes chronic when the nervous system is overloaded by continuous pain stimulus. The nervous system fights back against this ongoing pain signal with complex changes, and as a result pain sensors can become much more sensitive. Meanwhile, the pain-inhibiting signals from the brain become weaker.

Over time, the pain may disconnect from its source and may persist even after the original injury has healed. Prompt and effective treatment can prevent acute pain from becoming chronic.

Identify your pain to understand the best treatment to get you moving again.