Understanding Pain

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Understanding Pain

Understanding Pain

What is this pain that I feel?

There are many definitions of pain. The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as β€œan unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage.” In the human body the experience of pain starts with the stimulation of a nociceptor (pain receptor). The stimulus may be noxious, inflammatory or due to disease. Nociceptors are located in the skin, joints, muscles and the walls of organs. The stimulus is changed to an electrical current which travels along the nerve to the spinal cord BUT this is not yet pain. In the cortex of the brain many areas are activated by the transmission of the stimulus including those associated with emotional learning, memory and reward. Here pain is perceived or interpreted from the complex interaction of electrical and chemical impulses from different areas of the brain. At the cortical (brain) level then a response is generated dependent on many interacting bits of information.

Is all pain the same?

Pain may be acute or chronic/persistent. Acute pain occurs when tissue is damaged as for example in a burn or sprained ankle. This type of pain usually goes away as the lesion heals or the cause of the pain is removed. Chronic or persistent pain refers to pain that is experienced after an injury heals. This may be the pain related to a degenerative disease, or long-term pain from an unknown cause. Chronic pain may be generated by the body’s response to acute pain. Repeated or intense stimulation of nociceptors may trigger changes within the nervous system. This can be in the periphery, or centrally in the brain and spinal cord. Some of the changes include hypersensitivity to stimulation or magnification of normal stimuli. This condition is described as a sensitized nervous system.

At Corona Station Physical Therapy, our registered physiotherapists stay up to date with the latest in Pain Sciences/Medicine. We manage acute and persistent pain. Persistent pain conditions often require team work with other health professionals. For more information, please contact us at the clinic by phone or email and ask to speak to one of our physiotherapists.