Research has repeatedly shown that by understanding how pain works, you can reduce the pain felt from an injury or illness.
How Does Our Body Create Pain?
Pain plays a crucial role in your body. Your nervous system, including your nerves, spinal cord and brain produces pain as a warning signal to protect you from danger. If you touch a hot stove, your body creates pain to tell you to move your hand away! Nerves also carry messages about what is happening in our bodies, and instructions on how our bodies should act and react. For example, sweating, increasing or decreasing heart rate, and contracting and relaxing muscles are all reactions signalled by your nerves.
While nerves may signal pain to tell us of an injury, there is NO direct relationship between how much pain you feel and how much tissue damage has occurred. Some serious injuries can cause little pain while less serious injuries can be extremely painful. Just think about how much a paper cut hurts. In certain cases, danger signals never reach our brains, so we feel no pain. This happens when nerves block the signals coming from the injured area from reaching our brain, and is known as the Descending Inhibitory Pathway. We also have a corresponding system that amplifies the danger signals the brain receives. Our nervous system tries to make sense of the world so we can make decisions about how we need to act, but it is far from perfect in analyzing the amount of injury or damage.
To better understand your pain, you can also learn more about the specific muscles and joints affected by your injury or illness.