We’ve all experienced pain sometime in life, but the pain we feel differs from the person next to us. Pain is extremely subjective and always has an emotional and psychological component to it. This makes it difficult to objectively quantify pain, so we mostly use a pain scale (seen below) to rate the pain from 0-10:
How pain works?
Even if we struggle to put a number to the intensity of pain, the way the body perceives pain stays the same for us all. So how does it all work?
Let’s say you’ve bumped your toe against the table (which has happened to the best of us), the nerves in your toe pick up the injury and send a message to your brain. The brain then processes the message and alerts the body of pain.
Depending on where the pain is coming from, we get different types of pain:
1. Nociceptive pain: when the body responds to pain signals that come from harmful stimuli picked up by your peripheral nerves (such as force, extreme heat, extreme cold or irritants)
2. Inflammatory pain: pain signals that come from inflammation, due to damaged tissue
3. Neuropathic pain: pain signals caused by disease or damage to the nervous system, often described as burning, tingling or pins and needles
Acute or Chronic?
There are 2 major types of pain, and they are differentiated by how long the body perceives the pain.
Accute pain is what you’d experience in our toe-bumping example above, where the pain is relatively short-lasting. In this case, once the brain is made aware of the injury, it is dealt with quickly and the pain dissipates.
On the other hand, one can also develop chronic pain that lingers after the original injury, and lasts for more than 6 months. With this type of pain, often the cause has already been addressed (the toe has healed from the bump)and there is no new cause for the lingering pain. So why is it still sore? Chances are you have damaged a nerve(s) somewhere along the nervous system. These nerves start to malfunction by not only sending pain messages when there is an injury, but sending pain messages all the time... which means you keep experiencing pain.
I’ve got pain, now what?
Regardless if you have acute or chronic pain (or perhaps you’re not sure which one you’ve got), it is advisable to see a healthcare professional to address your pain and to tailor the treatment for you. I would recommend to see either a GP, physiotherapist, chiropractor or Biokineticist. Any of these medical professionals will be able to assess where the pain is coming from and refer you to the right profession for treatment.
Please remember that living with pain is NOT NORMAL! I’ve seen many clients that thought they would just have to accept the pain and live with it, please know that there is always something that can be done to ease pain. There’s absolutely no need to reduce your quality of life for the sake of pain. Seek the help you need when you need it!
So here’s to pain-free living!