What is Pain?

Pain is personal and created by the brain to warn of danger - but how does it work?

Pain is a complex and multifaceted experience that is unique to each individual. It is often described as a sensation of discomfort or suffering, but it encompasses so much more than that. Pain can be physical, emotional, or a combination of both, and it is often difficult to distinguish where one ends and the other begins.

What we do know about pain is that it is not simply a sensation that is felt in the body. Pain is actually created in the brain. The experience of pain is an output of the processing that occurs in your nervous system. This means that pain is not just a physical response to a stimulus, but rather a complex interplay between your brain, your body, and the environment around you.

Your brain receives information from all around your body, every second of every day. It uses this information, along with prior knowledge and experience, to decide if a situation is safe or dangerous. If your brain determines that you are in a safe situation, it will calm the incoming messages and continue about its business. However, if it perceives the presence of a threat, it can respond by creating pain.

Pain is essentially your brain using your body as a warning system. By creating alarms and sensitivities, your brain is able to draw boundaries between safety and danger based on information from your internal and external world. This information is influenced by a myriad of social, psychological, and biological factors that can initiate pain, sustain pain, and even change the way you experience pain over time.

It's important to remember that pain is not just a physical sensation. The way you think, feel, and behave can all impact the way you experience pain. This is why pain is such a personal and subjective experience. What may be extremely painful for one person may not be painful at all for someone else.

Understanding the biology of pain can help to validate your pain experience and provide you with a greater sense of control over your pain. It can also help you to understand that a life can be lived despite the presence of pain. By understanding the complexities of pain and the factors that influence it, you can begin to take steps towards managing your pain and living a fulfilling life.

"Most commonly, pain occurs when your body's alarm system alerts the brain to actual or potential tissue damage. But this is only part of a big story. Pain often involves all of your body systems and all of the responses that occur are aimed at protection and healing."-- Explain Pain, G Lorimer Moseley, David S Butler