Understanding Pain - What Is Pain?
Understand better why our bodies feel pain and the many causes.
Defining body pain
Pain is an unpleasant sensation that can limit a person's abilities and capabilities to follow a daily routine. It usually acts as an early warning sign to alert you that something is not right with your body. The widely accepted definition of pain was developed by the International Association for the Study of Pain: "Pain is an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or is described in such terms."
Body pain can vary between moderate, localized discomfort or agony. It can be acute and short-lived, or become chronic and a long-term problem. Acute pain has a protective function for humans, as it teaches us to avoid injuries to our body or potentially harmful situations, protecting the injured part of the body while it heals.
Body pain is a common occurrence and can sometimes affect our daily routines. If the pain continues untreated or is treated incorrectly, it can become chronic. If this happens, you should consult a doctor.
Why do we feel pain?
Pain can be an uncomfortable sensation - and some people do everything possible to figure out how to alleviate it... If we didn't feel pain, we would be unable to prevent repeated injuries or permanent damage to our bodies. Pain evolved as a defense mechanism that alerts us to injury, thus allowing us to protect our bodies.
Pain is controlled by the nervous system and is a very complex process. It occurs when an external stimulus, for example touching a hot frying pan, triggers receptor nerve cells that send messages along the spinal cord to your brain. These receptors are capable of feeling heat, cold, light, touch, pressure and pain. The pain can bring other physical symptoms, such as nausea, dizziness and weakness.
Generally, the first impulse, when we feel pain in the body, is to stop. Many believe that rest will aid recovery, but in reality, sometimes moderate movement can be more supportive of a faster recovery.
Be aware of your pain
Pain alerts us to protect ourselves from further injury. However, bodily pain can also make everyday activities difficult and impair movement recovery.
Perhaps more significantly, it can change your lifestyle and impact your work, interpersonal relationships and independence. Pain is always subjective and an individual will experience pain in their own way.
Acute pain typically comes on suddenly and is a sign that your body has been injured. It should disappear once the injury has healed. Chronic pain lasts longer than acute pain and is sometimes resistant to treatment. It is usually associated with long-term illnesses. Unlike acute pain, chronic pain tends to be related to dysfunctions or illnesses that last for a long time. If you are concerned that you may be experiencing chronic pain, you should consult your doctor.
Before turning to a pain relief treatment, such as a topical gel or tablet, it is helpful to understand why the pain is occurring and the best ways to manage it. To do this, it is important to obtain medical and/or pharmaceutical advice.
88% of people worldwide experience muscle pain*
*GSK Global Pain Index Research 2014, report, p.9
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