Pain - Things You Should Know About It

Written and reviewed by
MSPT (Master of Physical Therapy), Bachelor of Physiotherapy
Physiotherapist, Faridabad  •  23years experience
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I am doctor Sanjay Chablani. Today I am just going to share about some of my experience and expertise on understanding pain. I do see a lot of people complaining about knee pain, back pain, shoulder pain and neck pain, but also see there is a lack of awareness on understanding what pain is all about. So we are going to share some of the thoughts on that and some of those thoughts may be new for all of you and some of them may be conflicting even as well about what you have heard so far from various other clinicians or even from google as well. Pain is about understanding where does it come from first, so pain has been derived from an old latin word “poena,” which in latin means penalty. So we say we have pain, it refers to that penalty. The penalty is only given when we have done something wrong and that is where we relate it with something wrong in us or there is something I have done which has created this pain, Which in fact, let me tell you that pain is not all about just penalty. It is a way of our brain. It is an alarm system of our body, which helps us to protect from various threats which may be coming or which may actually be there even as well. So we may have an injury and we may feel that pain or we may potentially have that injury, which may mean, if we continue doing something which the body is not liking or used to it, then it may make you experience that pain as a potential damage that may happen and that is where we have to understand about it.

So we have pain and pleasures in our lives and we all experience them. But we need to understand that pleasures are a luxury, but the pain is essential, it is a necessity to addressing and knowing about. So I would share about how pain is created? Whenever we experience something like warmth or heat, cold or something sharp, that is just a sensation. We don’t have any pain receptors. We have receptors in our body which sense different sensations, they maybe touch, pressure, heat, cold, roughness, soft all of these. So these are sensory receptors as we call it and they take or convey the message like electric current, they take it out to our brain. It is up to the brain, where all the processing happens about the information that is coming in. So we have an experience of papercut injury on a finger and that has been very painful in the last occasion, It is highly likely when we have it again, we may experience the same injury to be much more painful than even the previous one. Where the previous injury may have also been linked with, let us say it happened at the time where we were going to be performing musical keyboards and drums.

So that experience of us having an injury at that time, where we were performing in front of a big audience and it was a key movement for us and having that small kind of papercut, which impacts our ability to play at those times, that is retained as memory in our brain. So our brain tries to connect that experience to the current experience every time. So your perception of the pain is going to be very different every time you may have an injury and these experiences added up by if you heard someone among your friends who may have had a similar injury and may have again not being able to do the key thing they were in the middle of doing. So that again creates more of a fear amongst us to impact this pain. Now one of the points we have to ask about is, is it important for us to experience pain? As I said it is an alarm system. So it is an important thing for us to experience pain. Pain is not bad, it is just something telling us about our own body. So let us just use an example; if you are walking barefoot in your garden and there is a piece of glass and your feet gets stabbed with that piece of glass. you can only experience it if you have those pain receptors, which make you experience the sharpness of that object. If you do not experience the pain because of that sharpness, the sharp piece of glass can stay in and create an infection and that infection can go up to any level. It can cause infection in the foot. The infection can spread up to leg as well and infect the whole body, so indeed leading to death as well.

It is important as it is a protective mechanism, so that is why I say pain is an alarm system. As I just used the example of the injury that we may have had on the finger, like the papercut injury, though the injury is very small but we experience the pain quite a lot as it is quite sharp and really want to stop or control that. So that is one of the simple examples which gives us information about the severity of pain is not necessarily equal to the amount of injury or the problem we may have and one of the things I would probably just elaborate a little bit more about is, we all have seen our soldiers, army men in war. Let us just use an example of a soldier being badly wounded, his leg has been chopped off because of injury or a mine blast that may have happened and because of that he has a massive trauma on his leg, now think about the amount of pain he must have been experiencing. We all probably would say that it is going to be very painful because his leg has been cut off and badly wounded, either as well. But now I give you a situation here, now the same person, the same army soldier is trying to hide himself from an enemy who is looking out to kill him. Now think about, is he gonna be shouting with that much amount of pain in the leg or is he going to be really quiet, just to save his life?

And that is what is important and tells us that the severity of pain is not necessarily equal to the amount of injury you may have. It really depends also upon your state of mind that maybe, so it is how your brain processes that information. It is always working for your survival, remember that. From the previous example as we used of the army soldier, here is the other one where we have seen across some of the people in our close proximity, let us say an elderly person experiencing knee pain because of arthritis, which has been affecting their lifestyle in terms of walking, their independence, difficult to move around, asking for help, to do things as well and here comes a wedding in the family and what do you see? you see them dancing and enjoying the wedding. What is the question we need to be asking is what happened here? Where is arthritis gone? Where is the pain gone? It is not about the problem the person may be having. It is about how the brain decides to interpret and make them experience. Is it worth for them to have the pain or not? These are a few of my thoughts as I said some of them may be new for all of you and some of them may be conflicting. I absolutely respect your feelings. It is not to say that you do not experience high levels of pain. It is just more of understanding, more about pain and hence I believe in no pain no gain. When you know about the pain, you have the information about it. You know about how your pain is going to be able to change and transform. Thank you very much for listening to this and I look forward to your experiences and comments on the links below.


Thank you very much.

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