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What is pain?

Pain is a universally felt experience. But why do we feel it and why is it so important that we do?

There are different categories of pain… Acute Pain is usually only short term. This is usually sharp or sudden and is often caused by an injury. Persistent or Chronic Pain is usually felt on a long term basis. Examples of this are “Back pain” and arthritis and fibromyalgia. •Some pain seems to comes and go and this is known as recurrent or intermittent Pain.

What is the purpose of pain?

Pain is a very useful bodily response that begins at the source of an injury or at the site of inflammation. For example, acute pain occurs when you accidentally grab a hot pan… pain receptors in your hand release a chemical message which is sent through your spinal cord to your brain, this happens so fast that you instantly pull your hand away to prevent further injury. Very clever system.

Chronic pain, however, is one of the leading causes of people seeking medical care and needing to take absences from work.

Our ability to manage the pain by regulating our internal environment is known as allostasis.

When people suffer from chronic back pain, it can be very frustrating especially when there is no clear cause of pain. People often seek help from pain medication which as we know is a very temporary fix and can also be highly addictive. People will often cease activity for fear they will aggravate the issue. This, in turn, can make matters worse as movement is often a vital part of recovery.

MRI’s may not be the most effective way to get to the root cause of chronic back pain either. They can sometimes be misleading as abnormalities may be present in the scan but may not be the cause of the pain. “Most of the structural changes in your spine are natural occurrences.” ― John E. Sarno, Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection

If you experience recurrent pain it is best that you seek medical advice from your GP.

Acute pain due to injury is also best treated by your doctor. But you probably already figured that one out.

There are no widely accepted guidelines for the treatment of chronic nonmalignant pain and doctors have a tough time either over precribing medicine to their patients or not giving it much attention at all.

If you suffer from nonmalignant chronic pain you might like to try a couple of my tips below.

5 ways to help manage nonmalignant chronic pain

Getting quality sleep – Poor sleeping patterns can have an impact on your mood and your immune system. When the body is not well rested we are more accutely aware of pain. Also sleep is the time when your body is repairing and renewing at a cellular level.

Diet – The Mediterranean diet is considered to be a good choice when considering way’s to decrease inflammation in the body. This diet is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils. Eliminate processed foods and reduce alcohol in take.

Mindfulness practice – Mindfulness is the ability to become aware of the present-moment experience, including bodily sensations, emotions, and thoughts, without judgment or responding to them. Studies have shown through brain scans that people who practice mindfulness are less reactive to the sensations of pain.

Adopting a more active lifestyle – Our bodies love to move, they were designed for it. When they are still or get stuck in very similar movement patterns the connective tissue can become restricted which reduces mobility and can cause imbalance and pain.

Emotional wellbeing –  Pain and stress are natural protection systems to protect us from harm, threats and starvation. However when we suffer ongoing stress or pain the body experiences changes which could lead to compromised well-being. That is why it is necessary to make time daily for rest and renewal. Even if you just take 5 minutes to lie down in a comfortable position with no distractions and watch your breath.


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