This lecture by pain expert Lorimer Mosley will shed a lot of light on this topic. The principles behind this post are relevant to anyone who is in pain especially if you have beenÂ in pain for longer than 6-8 weeks (typically).
The first principle is that
- Pain is in the brainÂ and it exists nowhere but the brain. Pain is simply an interpretation of your brain’s reception of something called nocioception (which normally occurs with tissue damage). But this is more like Chinese whispers. Nocioception can tell your brain one thing, and your brain can completely over or under estimate it. There is no right perception of pain, it is simply subjective to that person in time which leads us to our second principle
- Pain is danger, not damageÂ which can be explained really well with the example of a paper cut. You’re in no pain until you look down and see yourself bleeding. Why? Because before the nocioception created by tissue damage wasn’t significant enough to bring a conscious awareness to your pain to then signal to your brain that you’re in danger. If you bring the emotional component i.e. fear of bleeding to the equation when you first witness it, this then tips the balance in favour of you perceiving enough danger to be in pain.
The point is that by adapting a different perception of pain (i.e. that it correlates to the perception of danger rather than damage) we can put the patient in a far better mental state which is more advantageous for recovery. To be able to rationalise pain and reduce the emotional component of fear is a great advantage in patient rehabillitation