Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Terminology Tuesday: pain
Defining pain may seem slightly silly. We all have experienced it at one point or another, whether it's acute like a sprain or chronic like JA. Definitions often cite unpleasantness due to external stimulation or tissue damage or sensory and emotional issues.
The biggest thing to know about pain is that it's a product of the nervous system. Your nerves, some of which are better at detecting damage or are closer to areas we tend to hurt more, send messages to your brain via your spinal cord to say "HEY! THIS IS A THING AND IT ISN'T FUN!"
That message is a little altered on the way up to the brain, so pain that occurs often or is quite small isn't as big of a deal. Sometimes it may not even be communicated at all.
Your brain sends endorphins and other pain-killing chemicals out to help lessen the pain. Depending on what you injured, your inflammatory buddies will head to the injured area and cause a little swelling and/or patrol for invaders and germs.
Chronic pain is rough. My fibromyalgia is considered a "lifelong central nervous system disorder." My brain doesn't process some signals correctly - some of that could be the spine's fault - and I wind up feeling widespread pain from things that are not painful... like clothing rubbing against my skin.
We all know pain is so much more than these signals, but I think this is something we have to keep in mind. We can be so angry at ourselves, at our bodies for not working. Oftentimes these signals get mixed up due to trauma or other illnesses or any number of things. Let's be patient with ourselves and our bodies, as we might be with a sick child.