What is pain?
The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling, actual or potential tissue damage.” Pain motivates you to remove yourself from a harmful situation as protection, like removing your hand from a hot hob. Most pain disappears once the unpleasant stimulus is removed and the body has healed.
However, pain can persist and can even appear when there are no detectable stimuli or damage. Furthermore, very often pain does not equal damage. This is very important to understand when tackling chronic (long-lasting) pain!
What contributes towards pain?
Like any complex piece of equipment, the nervous system that send signals from the nociceptors (that sense the painful stimuli), to the brain (which decides whether the stimulus is dangerous), can misfire. The spinal cord can act like an amplifier of pain depending on what the brain tells the body you will need protection from. Other non-physical factors not linked with physical damage can increase your body’s sensitivity to pain: this is known as “sensitisation” of the nervous system.
This sensitivity can come from a number of areas in your life, here are a few examples you may recognise from your own life:
There is very rarely one cause of pain. It is generally, a combination of some of the factors listed above.
Am I damaging myself more?
Approximately 85% of back pain is not caused by a structural change, inflammation or disease. This is “non-specific back pain” and studies show that exercise is beneficial for this type of pain. Moreover, for the majority of back pain, it is unlikely that movement and continuing with your daily activities will damage your back. In fact, it will likely benefit!
If you are in pain and perhaps worried about the cause, contact us today to find out how our chiropractors can help. Our team will be able to discuss with you what sort of back pain you have, the factors impacting this pain, as well as the subsequent movement and activity appropriate for you.
Author: Jennifer Barr