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Pain, it's in your head, but that doesn't mean it's not real

Updated: Aug 30, 2023


Hey Dr. McNamara here at McLaughlin Care, and I'm coming at you guys with a wellness wednesday. And the topic I would like to talk about today is pain. Now being a chiropractor, and a musculoskeletal practitioner, we see pain on an everyday basis. That's primarily what we treat when the patient comes in with low back pain, neck pain, headache, shoulder pain, elbow pain, wrist pain, all that kind of stuff.

We're treating it here in our office. The interesting thing about pain though, is generally when we experience pain, it's due to some sort of acute injury or insult to the tissues of our body. What's interesting though, is the interpretation of the pain actually is not taking place in the area that you feel the pain it's actually all occurring up in here in our brain.

And you can think of pain similar to an emotion everybody's gonna have. Different ranges of that pain that they feel, and it's going to be different for everybody. I'm sure, somebody where you tap them on the shoulder and that's painful. And then, another person where you can punch them as hard as you can in the arm, but they don't feel anything.

That's that sensation. That's that difference that we have with everybody another thing with pain, it's the second, most common reason to see a doctor and to miss work. Another reason why you need to be getting your pain, checked out, to figure out what's causing the pain in order you can treat it is because it's extremely common and it could be causing you to lose work and that can be having other effects in your life that we don't want to deal with.

I got some more information for you guys. I'm going to have a little video following this. That's going to explain more of how. Pain is interpreted in our brain and how acute pain can lead into chronic pain and what you can do about it and how chiropractic care can help. Before I do that, though, I wanted to talk about this study done by Tonosu et al., and in this study, what they looked at was MRI results. Low back pain and it was a 10 year longitudinal study. So what they wanted to see is that the MRI results corresponded with that low back pain and they gave it a nice long 10 year period what was interesting is that there was no correlation with the and the patient's symptoms of pain in the low back throughout this ten-year period. Pretty much what I want you to get out of this is that you are not the results of your x-rays or your, whatever MRI or diagnostic imaging you have.

Pain is something we experienced in the brain. What's really important is that we're functioning properly and that we're not in pain and we're controlling those kinds of symptoms that are occurring up here, even though we're treating that area down there. So I just want you guys to know, you may have an MRI that say, herniated disc, L four L five S one.

And it could even say, moderate, severe things like that doesn't always correspond to your pain symptoms, and your pain symptoms, aren't always going to correspond to those MRI findings. So I just want you guys to keep that in mind now, without further ado, here is a little bit more information on how we experience pain and interpret it, and how we can improve these types of symptoms.

**Transcript from Pain and your Brain Video***

Experiencing pain is normal. Everyone experiences pain now and then. Pain is supposed to be a protective experience to make sure you stopped doing things that may be dangerous. But chronic pain, that is pain that has persisted for more than three months is no longer protective nor informant. Let's look at what chronic pain is and what you can do about getting rid of it.

All pain is created by your brain because your brain has decided that you are threatened or in danger and need protecting. The interesting thing here is that you don't actually have to have any actual tissue damage to feel pain. And if your brain is not aware of tissue damage, you may not feel any pain at all.

Even when you've injured yourself. Chronic pain is the second most common reason. People see a doctor and miss work more than one third of people with chronic pain become disabled by their pain. To some degree, chronic pain can be mild or excruciating. It can be episodic or continuous. It can be merely inconvenient or totally incapacitating.

The pain can be from headache. Or joint pain can be neck pain, back pain or pain from an injury. Other kinds of chronic pain include tendonitis or sinus pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and pain affecting specific parts of the body such as shoulders, elbows, wrists, hands, hips, knees, ankles. The common thing with all these types of pain, is it the actual feeling of pain is always 100% of the time created in your brain?

This does not mean it's not real. It's very real, but understanding that the pain itself is created in your brain has major implications for how you can get rid of it. And because pain depends so much on what you think and feel about the. It's very important. You understand pain properly. Your pain experience depends on why your brain has decided you need to be protected.

Why it's creating the feeling of pain for you in the first place. It can therefore be very useful for you to try to figure out why your brain may be creating pain for you. What was happening at or around the time your pain started? What makes it worse? What makes it better? Why is this? Because we know that the brain can be retrained.

So you need to use all the tools available to you to retrain your brain out of pain. Some of the keys to retraining your brain are staying active, staying positive, eating well and sleeping well today, let's look at why staying active is so important, your posture and how you move plays an important role in how you feel and how you experienced pain.

Even as little as a short walk every day. If there are movements you cannot do because of your pain, you can still help yourself by imagining those movements. We know from neuroscience research that imagining a movement influences the brain in a very similar way to actually doing the movement. This can help to retrain your brain to understand that the movement is not dangerous because imagining doing the movement will not.

You can basically trick your brain into giving you back pain, free movement, play with these sorts of things. Make movement fun, move in different emotional states. Like when you're happy or grateful, move outside in the sun, in the park with beautiful plants and flowers or move in water. The movement of your spine is also very important.

Yoga or simple spinal exercises can be great for that. And chiropractic care may be really important to help you move to the main focus of chiropractic care is to improve the movement and function of your spine. This is so important because proper movement of the spine helps the brain to know more accurately.

What is going on, not just in the spine, but also elsewhere in the body and chiropractic care has already well known in the research literature to help people who suffer with neck pain, back pain and headache. This is most likely because chiropractic care helps the brain no more accurately. What is going on in the spine and body and may help the brain to switch off the feelings of pain when they are no longer needed.

So if you suffer with chronic pain, do your best to stay positive, move often, eat well, sleep well, and go see your family chiropractor to help retrain your brain out of pain.

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