Over the past few centuries, our understanding of pain has evolved to include new contributing factors. Pain is an individualistic experience, however it is also considered a biopsychosocial experience.
The biological component is simply your body. The organs or tissues, such as ligaments, muscles and/or nerves could be deranged and damaged, thus sending signals to the brain which in turn interprets those signal and decides whether to signal pain or not. We should not ignore the fact that the psychological factor can also affect the biological component of the pain model. States of depression and anxiety can manifest itself in the body, causing tension, spasm and tightness in areas such as the traps, the neck and the jaw.
Psychological factors, such as stress, anxiety and depression, can actually worsen the experience you have with pain. Recent studies show that patients who have a negative psychological condition prior to surgery, such as hip replacement, were prone to a longer period of pain during recovery.
Social factors, such as our work environment, family, or lifestyle, can also influence our perception of pain. Many of our patients report that their pain intensifies when they are at work, or when they are involved in an argument with a significant other. When exposed to a negative social environment, pain intensifies; science contributes this to the brain perceiving the environment as hostile and resorting to a flight and fight mechanism acting as a sense of protection.
Mind Over Matter
These factors contribute to our pain, because pain is perceived at the brain level. One of the most interesting phenomenon of pain is that it is not necessarily an experience at the site of the pain. For example, you might have a herniated disc, but you will not be aware of it until your brain decides to signal that the tissue is harmful, at which point you will feel the pain in your back.
Scientific findings have proven that there are individuals with disc degeneration, herniated discs, rotator cuff tears, bulging discs, etc. who are completely asymptomatic. This reinforces my previous statement, that the pain is an experience at the brain level affected not only by the tissue but also by your mood and your perception of your environment. If the brain decides to signal that, for example, the disc bulge is harmful, then it is at that point that you will feel the pain which is a form of protection to alert us that there is a need for modification.
At Integrated Health Solutions, an affordable chiropractic clinic, we educate our patients on the cause of their pain. We explain to them that pain is not necessarily a direct correlation in the harm of the tissue, but instead the pain is simply a signal for the need of modification. When patients understand that the pain is not creating more damage to the injury, we actually find they experience a reduction in pain.
At our Indianapolis Chiropractic clinic, we strive to educate our patients on the different factors that affect pain, in hopes of expediting their healing. Through this education, in most cases, the patients are able to reduce the external factors that negatively affect their pain experience, whether it is psychological or environmental, by doing so, it helps us obtain our goals in fewer visits.
If you’ve been dealing with pain, and would like to learn more about the factors that may be contributing to it, contact our office today at 317.449.2020.
About Integrated Health Solutions
Dr. Charbel Harb is a licensed chiropractic physician and the Medical Director of Integrated Health Solutions. Our core belief is that each patient who walks through the doors is a person, not just a medical record or chart. Our greatest pleasure is bringing joy to our patients and helping them to fully embrace life, allowing them to enjoy each day: active, healthy and pain free.