Updated: Nov 20, 2021
If you think about it, when we are worried, anxious or fearful of something, it is usually because we lack an understanding of that something, or maybe we have engrained a misunderstanding of that something within us. When it comes to chronic pain, people often have a misconception about what pain means. Acute pain is good, it is a feeling inside of us that prompts action. It protects us from damage, it warns us when we have an infection, it saves lives. With chronic pain, even though there is no longer tissue damage, pain is causing the human to act accordingly because there is a misunderstanding; continuously linking damage, danger and the need to protect that body part every time pain is felt. The longer this goes on for, the more the brain focuses on the painful area, the more overprotective and hypersensitive the pain system becomes. This is a very complex system but you can see how having a misconception about pain in the first place can really trigger the negative cycle. The brain learns to produce pain really well and this can take over someone's life.
So how do we break this cycle? It starts with knowledge.
If the brain can learn pain, it can also unlearn. The human body's dynamic ability to adapt and it's neuroplasticity is a a magical gift. If someone living with ongoing pain can truly understand that their pain systems have become overprotective and are not very helpful right now, and probably doing more harm than good to the body, it can be life changing. It may take time for this new understanding of pain to sink in, but when we unlearn the concept of pain equals damage, we can start to move more and by doing so, we are retraining the pain system in a positive way. Slow and steady wins the race, with patience and dedication, people living in pain can get better. It begins with changing our thought patterns through new knowledge. In this case, knowledge is power.
Over the last few months as I am explaining this to people, I am realizing that this concept doesn't only relate to pain management but also relates to many other areas of life.
Try to think about the last time you were scared of something? Or maybe think about something that you are avoiding because you are worried about the outcome? Once you put your finger on this, learn more and gain knowledge in this area. The more knowledge you gain, I guarantee the more powerful and confident you will become.