What is pain?
You may have heard of the terms ‘acute pain’ or ‘chronic pain’ but what does this mean?
Acute pain – This is short term pain and is associated with injury or possible injury to your body. For example if you go over your ankle you may feel pain immediately. This is known as acute pain. Usually this will settle with time (normally 3 months). Acute pain is helpful because it tells us to change what we are doing so that the injury can heal.
Chronic pain – Chronic pain normally lasts longer than 3 months but does not indicate that there is an ongoing injury or that your body is damaged. However this is not to say that chronic pain is non-existent. It can really affect someone’s life! It may help you to manage your pain if you understand how pain works.
Pain and the brain
You may think that your pain is ‘all in your head’ and to an extent that is true. However pain is so much more complex than that. All pain is produced by the brain as that is the control centre of your body. Your nerves will tell your brain that something is ‘happening’ to your limb, back, neck, etc. However your brain interprets these messages from the nerves to determine how much pain you feel.
However, it’s even more complex than that! Pain is MULTIFACTORIAL. What this means is that when the brain is determining how painful something it is it draws on a lot of information to decide this. It draws on:
- Past experiences
- Stress level
- Previous information about pain
- General health
- Lack of sleep
All this information leads the brain to conclude how sore something is. This is why no 2 people will experience pain the same way.