The pain you feel is an experience, unique to you. No one else, can quite experience pain like you do. That is because your pain is influenced by your body and your body's response to your current circumstance.
Whether it is a pain enduring illness, painful injury or a pain filled event. Many factors combine and the net result of them all, is the pain you feel.
These factors include:
- Swelling (when compressed chemicals in swelling trigger off danger messages to your brain).
- Sensitivity of the nerves which send/ receive messages (sensitive nerves fire off danger messages to tell your brain you are under threat) note your nerves can become more sensitive, as they send more and more messages over time. They can also become less sensitive!
- Changes to tissue structure. Via nerves a message is sent to inform your brain that there are changes in tissues in a certain area of your body such as with exposure to changes in temperature (e.g hand on frying pan), chemicals (e.g touching your eye with chilli fingers), stretch (e.g accidentally landing in side splits 🕺)
- How threatened we are by our current situation.
- Emotion and emotion regulation affect the way we feel pain. An increase in emotional threat can increase the intensity of pain we feel.
- How in control of our situation we feel. E.g treading on a bindi in the lawn v someone holding us down an putting a sharp pin into your foot.
- How supported we feel affects the way pain impacts our day to day life.
- Being in a social position where we feel disconnected and left out leads to the same areas firing in your brain and does when you experience longstanding pain.
So if you are in pain:
Do something to address the factors that are involved! See if you can improve your current situation, to the best of your and your body's ability.
Ask yourself and your trusted health professional "What Biological, Psychological and Social factors are influencing my pain?"
Note: This picture is a gross over simplification and quite dramatic. Though, I believe quite relevant for people living with long standing pain, that is musculoskeletal in nature. It shows a cyclical form, of how factors can influence the pain we feel.