Pain is an intense sensation that hurts. It may be experienced as a steady, constant ache, a sharp stab or a dull aching throb. Normally pain is felt in the body, but it is as much about psychological distress, as it is about physical sensitivity. How we respond emotionally, affects the way we perceive and experience pain, or whether we find relief from it. Psychological studies show that people who suffer from depression, anxiety and stress are much more likely to suffer from pain-related conditions.
Pain is a subjective experience. For some people, pain can be an acute, intolerable and debilitating condition, which renders them helpless and in need of medical treatment – such as taking painkillers for rheumatic pain or severe injury. For others, pain can be a manageable experience, which they learn to accept by degrees. A changing state of awareness that can be adapted to with a combination of physiotherapy and pain relief exercises.
Pain is also a type of stress. The body’s way of signalling that it feels harm. The way we cope with the emotional impact of stress and anxiety can, therefore, intensify our experience of pain, or reduce it. Once the fear receptors in our brains have been triggered, the fight-and-flight response makes humans much more susceptible to pain stimuli once the adrenalin has passed. Exposure to chronic anxiety can induce joint inflammation, muscle tension, back pain and headaches. So our ability to self-regulate or manage emotions will enable us to deal with pain more effectively.
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