Chronic pain refers to pain that continues after an acute injury heals or after the passing of a period of time that should allow for healing, or in the case of conditions like Fibromyalgia and IBS. The injury or tissue damage doesn’t heal as expected, and because of this, the nerve fibers continue to fire as if there is damage that needs attention. With this unrelenting signal traveling up the spinal column to the brain, eventually the transmission circuits become more efficient at transmitting these signals. Like your pain volume is turned to to high! The continuous input into these circuits causes more transmission, with the net result being more pain. At the same time the number and array of pain-causing neurotransmitters in the nervous system increase. Over time, the threshold for the pain receptors to fire is lowered, and a less intense stimulus is needed to cause the nerve to discharge and send its signal. What started out as a message from the site of an injury to the brain has become a self-contained feedback loop within the nervous system which then results in a disease of the brain.
Emotions Drive the Experience of Pain
Based on studies conducted earlier this year and published in the journal NatureNeuroscience, we now have conclusive evidence that the experience of chronic pain is strongly influenced by emotions. The emotional state of the brain can explain why different individuals do not respond the same way to similar injuries. It was possible to predict with 85 percent accuracy whether an individual (out of a group of forty volunteers who each received four brain scans over the course of one year) would go on to develop chronic pain after an injury, or not. These results echo other data and studies in the psychological and medical literature that confirm that changing one’s attitudes—one’s emotions—toward pain decreases the pain.
Learn more in my forthcoming book 'Breaking the Attachment to Pain. Where I explain how our beliefs, emotions and experiences have a huge impact of how we process pain in the body. I also look at the how people suffering from a Highly Sensitized Central Nervous System feel pain and stimuli in a very different way, including sensitivity to loud noises, bright lights, and negative energy etc.