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The Complexities of Pain




We know from our myth buster post on Monday that pain does not equal damage.


Research shows us that there is not necessarily a correlation between pain and tissue damage. This means that you can experience pain without actual tissue damage and you can have tissue damage without experiencing any pain. We also know from one of our previous blogs, ‘do I need a scan?’ (read here), that there isn’t a direct link between pain & what you might find on a scan.


Sounds strange & confusing doesn’t it? Well pain is a very complex entity...

Pain is always an output from our brain.


The brain decides what we need to know, feel and do based on a quick evaluation (we don’t even know this is happening!).


The brain receives information from our nerves, and during its quick evaluation it takes into account...


1. Our past experiences/memories

2. Our emotions

3. Our thoughts and beliefs

4. Our environment and the context


If there is enough evidence that a part of the body needs protecting then pain is the thing we feel!


However, our brain doesn’t always get it right… and it is not directly related to damage. Weird concept, isn’t it!?


Have a think about…


A broken leg. Pain goes away when a plaster is put on. Why? Because the brain associates the plaster with safety and threat to the body is eliminated. But, the fracture is still there! Think of pain as something we feel in response to a perceived threat… many things can make us feel threatened.


You may have noticed that pain feels worse when we are stressed or sad? Or that it feels better with laughter or socialising with friends? You may have put this down to being ‘distracted’ but there is much more to it than this! Our pain system is incredibly complex.


This is why we treat the whole person, not just the problem!


Treating pain is a routine part of what we do here at Harbourside Physiotherapy, but if persistent or chronic pain is a real problem for you, then book in with our pain specialist Physiotherapist, Beth, who can most appropriately help you with this.


For further advice, assessment & treatment, please contact us at Harbourside Physiotherapy.


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