Chronic Pain: Understanding the Origins of Pain

According to the CDC, “an estimated 20.4% of U.S. adults had chronic pain and 8.0% of U.S. adults had high-impact chronic pain” (CDC, 2019). Pain is a normal and necessary part of life. However, living in chronic pain is not a normal human experience. Typically, chronic pain is pain that lasts greater than six months. People that experience chronic pain have decreased function and decreased satisfaction with life.

We have discussed different pain types in a recent blog. However, we haven’t talked about how chronic pain changes the body and the importance of understanding pain. A study by Louw et al. investigated the relationship between pain education and chronic pain (Louw, Zimney, Puentedura, & Diener, 2016). The researchers found that current evidence supports the use of pain neuroscience education for chronic musculoskeletal disorders. In fact, knowledge of pain improves function, lowers disability and enhances movement in people living with chronic pain (Louw et al., 2016).

Let’s talk a little about pain

Pain is necessary for human survival! For example, you would want to know if you stepped on a rusty nail. Stepping on a rusty nail triggers pain receptors in the foot. Pain receptors in the body send chemical signals to the brain. Then, the brain processes those signals and constructs a pain response. The pain response is necessary to take the next steps. Pain tells us to take the nail out and to get help. Further, nerves are our alarm system. They are designed to send us danger messages. Once the danger goes away, such as removing the nail, the danger alarm goes away. Thus, the pain disappears.

What happens with chronic pain?

Our receptors have a resting level called resting potential. Receptors stay at a steady state of readiness, awaiting a painful signal. In a normal cell the difference between the resting potential and a painful response is very large. However, chronic pain changes the resting potential of a cell. In chronic pain, the resting potential is at a higher level. This means there is a smaller difference between the resting potential and a painful response. In someone with chronic pain, it takes less to trigger a painful response. Consequently, it is easier to feel pain for someone with chronic pain.

Contact Us!

Contact us if you are experiencing chronic pain and want to learn more! In fact, New Jersey has direct access that can get you in for evaluation without you having to see a doctor. In short, calling us directly can end up saving you both time and money!

Call us to schedule an evaluation at one of BeneFIT’s locations, Bridgewater (908.203.5200) or Chester (908.879.5700)  with one of our highly trained Doctors of Physical Therapy or check us out on Instagram!

 

Sources:

Dahlhamer, J., Lucas, J., Zelaya, C., Nahin, R., Mackey, S., DeBar, L., . . . Helmick, C. (2019, September 16). Prevalence of chronic pain and high-impact chronic pain among adults – United States, 2016. Retrieved May 23, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/67/wr/mm6736a2.htm#:~:text=An%20estimated%2020.4%25%20(50.0%20million,adults%2C%20adults%20living%20in%20poverty%2C

Louw, A., Zimney, K., Puentedura, E. J., & Diener, I. (2016). The efficacy of pain neuroscience education on musculoskeletal pain: A systematic review of the literature. Physiotherapy theory and practice, 32(5), 332-355. doi:10.1080/09593985.2016.1194646