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  • Writer's pictureHannah Foster-Middleton

Why do we feel pain?

Dealing with pain is never easy, no matter what intensity it carries and for how long it exists in our body. Every one of us has felt the ache of smashing your finger in a drawer, stubbing your toe into the bed, or the twinge of a pulled muscle, we know the pain would follow. Part of the reason we feel pain is because our bodies have tons of nerves that help us move, think, and feel in all kinds of ways. It is the body’s way of letting you know that what you are doing is harmful and that you need to stop. Pain happens for one simple reason: to protect you. If your brain registers pain, you typically stop doing what caused it. It goes back to the “fight or flight” instinct.

Feeling pain in response to an injury is a signal that your body has been damaged in some way. Whether it is an illness, headache, or some other type of pain, it’s a signal to your brain that something is not right. When you stub your toe, the nerves in the skin of your toe will send a message to your brain that you are in pain. These messages are what scientists call impulses. They start in your toe, move to your spinal cord, then your brainstem, and onto your brain. The brain then sends information back to our nerves, helping us to perform actions in response. In other words, the physical message from the injury travels from where you’re hurt directly to your brain, where it registers the sensation known as pain. Your brain perceives that pain, and sends the pain message back to the area of your body that hurts — and it all goes very quickly. You don’t stub your toe and notice that it hurts five minutes later; you know right away.

Since each individual has a different pain perception and the meaning of pain is also different from one person to another. Pain also resides in different forms, more than just mild and severe that can affect the way that you feel and perceive pain. The first one, Acute pain, is a severe or sudden pain that resolves within an expected amount of time. This is short-term pain, usually, what you experience after some sort of accident or injury — you break your arm or twist your ankle. Once that injury has healed, your pain disappears and doesn’t require further treatment. But not so with what lies on the other hand, known as Chronic pain because it lasts three months or more, or longer than expected healing time for an illness or trauma. Whether it’s a low-level discomfort or agonizing pain that comes and goes but always returns, chronic pain can make navigating normal day-to-day activities exceedingly difficult. Finding a remedy that can ease it and restore your quality of life is crucial.

There’s been a lot of recent integration in the world of pain medicine and the pain response we take for granted is actually a sophisticated and instantaneous chain reaction. We’re told that the pain-free life, happy life is a good life yet on the flip side common in everyday mild experiences of pain and sadness makes us feel different in a lot of ways. Pain is simply something which gets in our way of being happy in life, and your memories of past painful experiences, genetics, long-term health problems, coping strategies, and attitude towards pain can all contribute to how you feel pain.



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