My own personal experience with Chronic Pain is where my interest in medical science began. For further information, you can read my previous blog story 'Back Pain Got Me Here'. In this blog I aim to simplify pain science into easy, understandable reading.
The brain is where pain is processed in a complex but fascinating way. Pain science constituted areas of my university and post graduate studies. My history of pain forged a fascination in this area of science as I desperately wanted to understand why after three years I was still in pain.
What is Pain?
In a nutshell, Pain is sensory information, processed by the brain. It is an important communication system to prevent body damage, or tell us that damage has occurred. Pain can also arise when something unknown is wrong and needs attention. Pain even starts a cascade of healing processes.
What is Chronic Pain like?
Chronic Pain is classified as pain that continues past three months. A bit like depression, chronic pain is a condition that is often hidden away by the person carrying it. Here is a cascade of chronological quotes that will all sound familiar to a person coping with Chronic Pain:
Countless assessments from a multitude of medical practitioners, including X-rays, Ultrasound and MRI.
No clear personal understanding of the source of pain apart from some “possible causes”
Possible causes treated with no effect.
Trying alternative medicine to no effect.
A feeling of being misunderstood, leading to feelings that the pain is not convincing anyone.
Consuming medication long term with no real positive effect.
Changing social habits due to pain.
Avoiding normal movement due to pain.
Feelings that the pain is not going away.
Resorting to alcohol or other drugs such as CBD to divert the pain.
Onset of depression due to a chronic pain state.
Why has pain become Chronic Pain?
Honestly, in terms of information and understanding, this is the biggest piece of the Chronic Pain puzzle. The car alarm analogy tends to be quite explanatory here!
Normally, a car alarms sensory system will only set it off if the car is hit hard or bumped hard. Now think of an alarm that is hypersensitive, like the alarms that go off when a noisy car goes past - there is nothing wrong with the alarm except that the alarms computer (brain) is set at a hyper sensitive setting.
The above analogy is relevant to a Chronic Pain state medically referred to as central-sensitisation. Many variables can lead to this state. These variables are unique and helpful pieces of information to initiate the journey of getting better.
How can I get out of Chronic Pain?
The first step is to be truely listened to and understood. There is going to be a bunch of areas to unravel in order to get this alarm system calmed down. You will need a comprehensive explanation and understanding of your pain, including ruling out more sinister conditions that may be adding weight to your thoughts. In most cases, it took a while to get into Chronic Pain, so it will take some time to wind that alarm system back down.
Is it possible to get out of Chronic Pain? Yes, of course it is!