Osteopathic Natural Health – The Purpose of Pain

We all feel aches and pains at sometime in our lives, whether they be from over-exertion, injury or the effects of life on our body.
Pain is not a simple experience. The more we study the experience of pain, the more we realise that there are many complex processes that drive how and why people feel it.
The two major types of pain are ‘acute’ and ‘chronic’. They differ from each other in why we feel pain, how we feel it, and it’s resultant purpose.
The most simplistic pain experience is acute injury. This does two major things; it protects us from further damage and it brings the products of healing to the damaged area. This is the ‘useful type of pain’. Acute pain is caused by damage to free nerve endings which sends messages to our brain that are interpreted as pain and causes inflammation.
Inflammation is often thought of as a bad thing but it is actually the body’s first response to damage that enables the start of the healing process. Unchecked inflammation is what should be avoided. The damage to our cells releases chemicals that increase blood flow to the damaged area bringing with it our immune response. It causes blood clotting and localised swelling and makes our blood vessels ‘leaky’ allowing the large cells of the immune system access to the damaged area. The swelling limits movement protecting us again from further injury. The chemicals also sensitise the free nerve endings, therefore, pain is felt quicker and this also serves to protect us from ongoing damage. Literally, “if it hurts don’t poke it” !
Chronic pain comes about when acute pain and inflammation remain unchecked for a long period of time. Changes occur in the body’s response to the chemicals of inflammation, the brains perception of what should cause pain and our learned response to that pain.
Next time we will explore the processes of chronic pain. Meanwhile, if you wish to discuss how osteopathy might help your pain please give us a call.
Jeannie and David Baskeyfield.
Osteopathic Natural Health
100 Commercial Road
(09) 420 7867

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