Whilst pain is often derived from tissue damage – it is processed in the brain. This is why your feelings and thoughts towards your pain or injury can affect the amount of pain you experience.
Many times when we have pain we wonder how much damage there is involved. Most people think “the worse the pain, the worse the injury” or “if it doesn’t hurt, the problem is fixed” . This is in fact not the case. Does pain equate to pathology? How can we tell whether our pain matches the tissue damage?
What is pain
Firstly, we need to understand that pain is a protective warning mechanism. It is usually activated in response to a noxious stimulus such as cutting our finger or bumping our head. But it is only when the brain concludes that the body is in danger and action is required that we experience pain.
The experience of pain can be totally different for different people. It is because it is modulated by particular beliefs, experiences, knowledge, social and educational backgrounds and many other cognitive factors that make pain complex.
What can cause chronic pain
Secondly, when pain has been persistent for some time, the threshold to elicit pain becomes less. Hence, pain is experienced even when the tissues are not in danger of further damage. This is commonly seen in people with recurrent low back pain. When a normal movement like twisting or bending can cause severe pain in people with a past history of lumbar pain.
Getting a proper diagnosis is key. As well as identifying all contributing factors including cognitive issues such as negative beliefs, anxiety, fear and stress that can be affecting the experience of pain.
At Square One Physiotherapy, our physiotherapists are in line with the latest research in this topic and can help determine whether your pain matches a pathology or not.