As a physiotherapist I see up to 15 people a day struggling with pain. “Pain is not in my mind, it is real” is one of the most common expression my clients say when I ask them about “their” pain. Especially when one of my patient refers he is going through a period of high stress (basically 90% of the people living in London!) and I make him notice that could influence the pain experience the response is him repeating like a mantra: “my pain is real”!!! He is concerned about the fact that I could underestimate the problem and he wants to make me focus on his genuine sufferance. He is concerned about the fact he got a physical damage and that is the place from which the pain come from! When I try to move his focus from the site of the pain and from the equation pain = damage to his mind and to the deep processes which create pain the client thinks I am not taking his problem seriously. Well, pain is only in our mind ………..Let me explain it better
The International Association for the Study of Pain’s describes pain in this way: “Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage.” Pain is an experience and it is due to several factors. Pain in an answer generated, largely, by the limbic system (which influences the endocrine system and the autonomic nervous system and that is involved in motivation, emotion, learning, and memory) and by the neuro cortex (especially the dorsal posterior insula) as a result of different input which arrives from the periphery (joints, muscles etc..) and from the centre (mood, beliefs, expectations etc..). Pain is not only something generated by “the structure”, by “the body” but actually a complex experience elaborated by our mind as a result of different input, that we will examine in depth in another blog, and highly influenced by attention, beliefs, expectations, mood, personal issues ongoing etc..
Any kind of pain, for definition, is REAL! Even the phantom pain
So, in summary, we can conclude in this way: PAIN IS NOT SYNONIM OF DAMAGE
Thanks for reading