Understanding Pain – The First Step in Empowering Yourself
Your pain experience is unique
The way you experience pain is as unique to you as your fingerprint. Tests will only show what’s broken or not broken… not how painful something is. Your pain experience is something only YOU can describe.
What is pain, really?
Everybody experiences pain at some point, but what is pain, really?
The definition of pain is “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with or resembling that associated with actual or potential tissue damage”.
Let’s break that down.
Humans feel pain both physically and emotionally — these are closely connected, but this unpleasant “feeling” is subjective — meaning that the sensation of pain is the same for everyone, but each person experiences it differently. Kind of like how two people can eat the same spicy food, but one finds it unbearable, while the other doesn’t mind it.
When we feel pain, there might be actual tissue damage, like a sprained ankle, or potential tissue damage. Potential tissue damage can cause fear or anticipation of damage, which can sometimes be just as harmful as real damage.
To sum it up: Pain is physical and emotional multiplied by subjective multiplied by damage or fear.
Physicians are good at finding and treating physical damage. But what about everything else in our pain equation?
To understand who to ask for help, let’s look at the factors that can contribute to a pain experience. The Psychosocial biological Model organizes these factors into groups: Psychological: our emotions and behaviours, Biological: genes and nutrition, and, Social: your environment, stressors, and trauma. Over time, as pain goes from acute to chronic, these factors play a bigger role in your ability to overcome your pain.
What can I do?
Having multiple contributing factors means that treatment for your pain should include multiple team members — like a family physician, psychological support, allied health professionals, like a physiotherapist and massage therapist, social supports, and support groups in your community.
Each team member can help you identify and address barriers as you set goals towards managing your pain, but achieving your goals requires active participation from a key team member: YOU!
There are many things you can do to help yourself, as your team members guide you in the right direction.
NeuPath’s national network of clinics are integrated health care providers utilizing technology, and interdisciplinary care to help restore function for people suffering with pain, chronic pain, spinal injuries, sport-related injuries, and concussions. We are now offering a Rapid Access Program at our Toronto, Brampton, and Oakville CPM locations, allowing you to see a pain physician immediately.
Contact: NeuPath Health Inc. [email protected]