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What Happens to My Body When I Have Pain?

Pain always begins at the root of inflammation or an injury. The body’s first reaction when hurting itself is to activate its pain receptors, release chemicals that send a message to the spinal cord.


Once the spinal cord receives that message, the brain eventually processes the information with its receptors in the thalamus. This information then travels to the cerebral cortex to manage the news.


After your brain perceives pain, it sends that message back to the part of the body with an injury or experiencing inflammation. The data transfer is immediate. You know that something hurts right away.


The human body has pain receptors attached to two primary nerve types that detect danger. One relays the message quickly, causing a sudden and sharp pain to occur. The other sends the messages along slowly, creating more of a throbbing experience.


Some parts of the body have more pain receptors than others. You have lots of them in the skin, making it easy to know the type of pain and where it occurs. When your stomach hurts, there are fewer receptors present. That makes it harder to find the precise location of the problem.


Determining Acute vs. Chronic Pain


People experience two primary types of pain. It can be acute, which is a short-term issue, or it can be chronic, which is a long-term problem.


When someone experiences unexpected pain, even if it is serious, and recovers within an expected time, it is an acute problem. Everything from an accident to an illness causes people to experience this kind of discomfort. [[1]]


Once the body recognizes that something is wrong, it attempts to determine how severe the damage is and what the next steps should be. You might experience an adrenaline surge, a raised heart rate, tears, or other reactions.


Chronic pain is an ongoing discomfort that doesn’t resolve within an expected time. It lasts three months or more or persists after the anticipated recovery. Some diseases and disorders that continually cause harm to the body are also known to be the root causes of this issue. [[2]]


If you have a joint afflicted by untreated arthritis, pain signals keep getting sent to the brain without much of a break. Even when there is no physical cause, the body’s reaction to this discomfort remains the same.


That’s why some cases of chronic pain are challenging to treat, but not impossible.


What Can Affect Pain When It Occurs?


Each person has a different response to pain to manage. What might seem like a debilitating incident to one person could be mildly unpleasant to someone else.


When someone perceives pain, it is directly influenced by the physical sensation or injury. It’s also affected by social, psychological, and emotional influences as the messages move through the different regions of the brain responsible for thoughts and feelings.


If you think about the traumatic events that happened in the past, you’ll see how two similar incidents had different pain outcomes.


One of the best things you can do for your body when it experiences pain is to do some deep breathing. Hormone levels increase in the blood, reducing tension in the muscles and connective tissues with this activity. [[3]]


How to Manage Pain Effectively


The availability of over-the-counter medicine has led many people to the habit of popping a few pills whenever they experience pain or expect discomfort. Although this option might provide short-term relief, many painkillers have a side effect that causes additional pain in other areas of the body.


NSAID medications have side effects that include high blood pressure, stomach upset, heartburn, skin rashes, fatigue, dizziness, tinnitus, and more.


Taking aspirin for pain can trigger stomach ulcers, indigestion, vomiting, and nausea.


Instead of settling for pharmaceuticals every time, other pain management strategies can deliver relief.


A popular pain relief method is to use physical therapies. When you apply ice or heat packs to the affected area, the discomfort often subsides. It might be helpful to try hydrotherapy, massage, or exercise to achieve some relief.


For some patients, it is helpful to treat their perception of pain by taking a closer look at their thoughts and feelings. Options like implementing relaxation techniques, encouraging meditation, or cognitive behavioral therapy can keep the pain away.


Community support groups, mind and body techniques, and upgrades to supportive equipment (including better shoes) are also effective for treating pain.


If you are experiencing pain, it doesn’t need to be a permanent part of your life. The choice to feel better often starts with the decision that you can get better.

[[1]] https://www.michigan.gov/-/media/Project/Websites/lara/healthsystemslicensing/Folder10/TOOLKIT-_Draft_Hlth_Consumer_Pain_Mngmt_Toolkit.pdf?rev=faf8bebe775e4cda9fa0754f180654d1 [[2]] https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/chronic-pain [[3]] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21939499/

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