“Dr. Zen! My back is in pain!” “I have shoulder pain. Can you help me?” “Doc! That is painful!” People often come into the office talking about their neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, or pain anywhere on our bodies. Some people live with pain and suffering everyday, and often that pain has a strong connection emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Pain may originate with an initial traumatic/injury or infection, or there may be an ongoing cause of pain. Some people suffer chronic pain in the absence of any past injury or/any evidence of damage. The emotional toll of chronic pain can even make pain worse. Anxiety, stress, depression, anger, and fatigue interact in complex ways with chronic pain. So how do we deal with pain? By learning a different way to understand and embrace it. With pain there is suffering, but suffering is necessary for our maturity and for living our lives to the fullest.
We cannot avoid pain during our lives because it is embedded in our brain. Pain is a feeling triggered in the nervous system. Pain may be sharp or dull. It may come and go, or it may be constant. You may feel pain in one area of your body, such as your back, abdomen or chest or you may feel pain all over, such as when your muscles ache from the flu. Pain may also have an emotional connection with your past. It can trigger in your mind emotional scares, traumas, or tensions. B. J. Palmer D.C. Ph. C., author of Science of Chiropractic says, “Pain is the mental interpretation of abnormal physical condition.” Pain can be very subjective, and the science of pain can be very difficult to understand. In chiropractic philosophy, we talk about pain in the following way:
“Pain is uncomfortable sensation resulting from the interpretation of impressions arising from an abnormal condition within the human body, or from an external stimulus, which has a detrimental effect upon the body. For example, take a sprained ankle in which the ligaments are stretched. There are sensory impressions constantly arising from this abnormal and sprained ankle. These impressions reach the brain, are interpreted, and efferent impulses sent out to the point from which the impression originated, transferring the sensation to the periphery as pain. The sensation of pain, however, occurs in the brain. This pain is adaptive, to prevent further use of the injured part until it can be properly and naturally repaired. Or if the skin should be pricked with a needle, an impression is immediately sent to the brain, where it is interpreted as pain, and motor impulses sent back to the muscles, which causes them to contract and withdraw from the injury. In this pain is also adaptive. “
Green Books: Chiropractic Symptomatology by James N. Firth, D.C., Ph. C
As pain is a mental interpretation and it occurs in the brain, it is often used as an alarm system. Your body has the capability to heal and to adapt to its environment, but when that function is lost due to obstruction of communication of the nervous system it is called subluxation. When something goes wrong, your body uses pain to tell you, therefore, by the time you feel pain damage has already been done Pain is used as an alarm system to prevent the damage from getting worse. Whether it is emotional, physical, or spiritual pain, the pain is a warning that the body is experiencing disharmony or loss of communication. Even when feeling pain most people deny its existence.
Most people think pain is important and proportionally significant in the human brain, but scientifically, only ten percent of the nervous system consists of pain!! The rest of the nervous system consists of organ function and muscle control. Pain is very subjective and can be misunderstood in many health conditions. For example my knees can be hurting while there is a disc bulging in my lower back putting pressure on the nerve that gives sensation to my knees. People can get a headache from emotional stress such as verbal argument between husband and wife. Pain can also be chronic and continue to be bothersome such as in the shoulders or lower neck.
Basically pain acts as an alarm system to warn you of something, but it is not the cause of your condition. Pain is a very poor measure of your health condition and very misleading for identifying what your health condition truly is. Absence of pain doesn’t mean you are completely healthy. When you are physically healthy, your body is interconnected structurally, and energetically you experience optimal adaptation to environmental stress, high resistance to disease, homeostasis, vitality, energy, fulfilling breath, fluid movement, relaxation, and ease.