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Pain is an Output

Pain, it’s a pain right?? It’s a nuisance, an inconvenience, a drag,  whatever way you want to describe it, it’s not good news, right? Wrong?

Could we look at this differently?

Pain is an output produced by our brains in response to what it perceives as danger. This conclusion is reached by analysing the information it receives from all parts of the brain.

For example, if you roll your ankle, it will receive information from the sensory cortex which represents your ankle, nociceptors (pain receptors at the ankle) are activated to tell the brain, “hey, something’s not quite right down here, these ligaments have been stretched and torn’.

It will also receive information from the limbic system that deals with emotions, without thinking , you’ll be considering “What does this mean?  Will I be able to play football next weekend?”

From the prefrontal cortex that deals with memories, this happened/hasn’t happened before.

From the optical area, ‘I saw it move at a funny ankle, that can’t be right?’

From the temporal lobe that is concerned with hearing, ‘there was a crack.’

This is an example of the kind of information your brain is receiving when we do something such as rolling our ankle.

That is only one side of the story though, it may well also dealing with an immune response, for example if you’re fighting a cold. The limbic system could involved for other reasons “is my son going to do alright at school today? “ “I can’t stand my boss, I feel underappreciated at work.’

The pre frontal cortex is working too, ‘how is the economy, is it a good time to buy that house, what’s happening overseas, is it a safe time to travel?’

You may not realise it, but while you are rolling around on the ground grabbing said ankle, your brain is very busy analysing all this information. If your brain decides from all of this information that there is a threat then it will respond by producing pain.

As a result of this pain we usually seek medical advice (I would recommend one of the highly trained physios at Bend + Mend) and our torn ligaments heal. This generally means that we have removed at least one of the threats to our brain and then it doesn’t feel the need to protect us any more so it doesn’t need to produce any more pain.

So pain is not the bad guy, it’s just trying to protect us. Recognising that pain is a product of numerous different stimuli can also help to de-mystify pain and decrease its intensity.

If you need help dealing with pain or an injury book in at our Sydney CBD Physio clinic…we can help!



Bend + Mend

Bend + Mend has been providing Sydney’s CBD with Physiotherapy and Pilates services since 2003. We have 4 great locations in Martin Place, Barangaroo, Darling Park and Circular Quay, all with private rooms and specialised one-on-one care. We also have Sydney CBD’s best-loved Physios who have helped over 10,000 people recover from pain and injury.

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