Part 2

How we process pain

  1. We do something painful
  2. Nerves send a message to the brain
  3. The brain responds

How we respond to pain

  1. The cerebral cortex thinks about the pain and decides what to do
  2. The Limbic system responds with emotion:
    1. Anger
    2. Fear
    3. Frustration
    4. Even relief
  3. The brainstem controls automatic functions like breathing and heart rate – these can change in response to pain

Anger, fear, and frustration play a larger part in chronic pain. The stronger the pain, the more it impacts your emotions. The longer you remain in pain, the more it impacts your emotions.

Pain can affect every aspect of our lives, not just our moods, emotions, and physical ability to perform tasks, but our ability to live our lives. Pain affects our sleep, memory, concentration. Depending on the intensity and duration, it affects our ability to interact with others.

“Anyone who has experienced chronic pain knows that it affects the ability to work, sleep and perform other activities essential to leading a full life. Now researchers at the University of Alberta have confirmed that chronic pain doesn’t just cause physical discomfort; it can impair your memory and your concentration” 1

I spent years just trying to manage my pain. That was my life. There was no going out with friends, enjoying a good book, productivity, clarity. There was anger, forgetfulness, memory loss, depression, and frustration…and no sleeping, not through the night!

Sadly, if we look at the side effects of opioids, many are the same as the pain with a few more thrown in for good measure.

After I had the surgery to relieve some of the pressure on the nerve and got wonderful blood flow back to my brain, I began to respond to the Feldenkrais method of physical therapy. I regained range-of-motion and felt a sense of accomplishment for the first time in years.

Now there are other medications available. There is DNA testing that can be done to find out which drugs work best for each of us. There are options no one really wants to tell us about unless we go on a crusade to find out for ourselves.

I kept looking for a miracle with determination. I found mine. Maybe by the end of this series, you will be on the way to finding yours too.

Even pain has something to teach if we can learn to listen!

1WebMD Article Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on March 14, 2018

2University of Alberta. “Chronic Pain Can Impair Memory.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 May 2007.

0 0 votes
Article Rating