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Chronic Pain: Question and Answer

Chronic Pain and Opioids are a big part of the news today. Are you confused about what chronic pain is? Can someone with chronic pain become pain free without Opioids? Answer to these questions will come in parts.

Part One:

  1. What is Chronic pain?
    1. Chronic pain is any pain that has been experienced for greater than 3 months
  2. Does my body go through physical changes when my pain is chronic?
    1. Yes, your brain begins to change and can effect the mirror neurons in your brain.
    2. Your body is in pain more often, so you have more pain receptors and more of the chemical that binds to the nerves that produce pain. 
  3. Do the changes in my body effect the way my brain views my body and movement?
    1. Yes, the changes in the mirror neurons can cause pain when you think about movement or see someone performing a movement that is painful.
  4. Are you saying my pain is in my head?
    1. No, I am saying that pain comes from the brain.
  5. Pain comes from the brain, can you be more specific?
    1. The brain is a pre-activity organ and predetermines the way we perceive touch, movement, -and various other sensory inputs- based on experience.
    2. This quick learning process is very helpful in sports. It is called muscle memory, but unfortunately our body’s can develop pain memory.
  6. How can I have pain memory that comes from my brain?
    1. Based on past experience you brain can send a pain signal even when that is an inappropriate response. NOI group calls this brain smudging.
    2. That means when a loved one lightly touches your arm,  your brain interprets that as pain instead of touch.
    3. Another example may be experiencing an 8/10 pain rating 2 days after exercise. If you hurt yourself you would have experienced pain sooner. Normal response to exercise 2 days later is soreness due to lactic acid build up. Your brain got it wrong. You should be sore not in extreme pain.
  7. Are you saying my pain is not real?
    1. No! The pain and inflammation you experience is very real. I am saying your brain got it wrong and needs to be retrained.
  8. Can I help my family to understand that my pain is real?
    1. Yes! Through education people with chronic pain and their loved ones can better understand what the person is going through and that it is not in their  head.
    2. Follow this Youtube link to learn more about Understanding pain in less than 5 minutes.



This article is for education only. This information is not intended to replace the advise or evaluation of a healthcare provider. An evaluation is highly skilled and complex and involves an evaluation of different systems and elements to determine the best approach for each individual. Always follow the instructions of your physical therapist or physician in regards to your personal exercise program. 

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