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Explain pain

Understanding Pain

Pain is complex, but understanding it better can help us cope with it better.

If you pull your fingers back, the pain you experience is triggered to warn you of injury and makes you take action to protect yourself. PAIN COMES TO PROTECT US, FIRST AND FOREMOST. IT IS TRIGGERED BY THE THREAT OF INJURY.

If we are injured, this protection response gets more sensitive to make us pay attention to the injured part and to guard it a bit so healing can take place unhindered, gradually getting less sensitive and allowing us to eventually forget about it and move normally as the repair gets stronger. Sometimes the pain carries on even after an injury has healed, or maybe starts up and carries on when there is no injury at all. That is, the protective system stays sensitive and more protective, or becomes sensitive for reasons other than injury.

Some of these other reasons why pain might come on for no apparent reason, or stick around longer than needed might be things like:

  • Poor sleep
  • Prolonged and/or major stress
  • Worry or fear, especially about what the pain might represent
  • Other pains ongoing at the time, or lots of pain problems in the past
  • Other health conditions, especially if they involve increased inflammation

Pain, with or without injury, and maybe with no obvious cause that is stubborn and hangs around for more than three months (the maximum time in which most injuries, even broken bones, will heal) is known as persistent (chronic) pain. By that stage it is usually about the body’s protective system being more sensitive and protective than about the body being damaged in any way but can have a significant impact on someone’s quality of life. Understanding more about pain can help: