How to Understand Chronic Pain

When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic pain, the first part of the treatment path my doctor assigned to me was taking a pain management class. She said to start treating chronic pain, I need to know how to understand it. And she’s right. Here’s how to understand chronic pain.

how to understand chronic pain #chronicpain #beingfibromom #fibromyalgia
created by Brandi Clevinger using the image from © Photographee.eu at www.stock.adobe.com

How to Understand Chronic Pain

The pain management class was an emotional deal for me. The instructor was a psychologist specialized in veterans with chronic pain. She explained how the body receives chronic pain physically and how the pain is resonated physically, emotionally, and mentally throughout the body. The effects pain can have on a body is not always visible, making it difficult for the people living with chronic pain, and their loved ones, how to understand chronic pain and its profound and damaging effects.

How does the body receive pain?

The body receives pain with a four step process.

    1. Pain is inflicted on the body.
    2. Nerve senses pain.
    3. Nerve sends pain signal to the central nervous system (the spinal cord and brain).
    4. The brain receives the signal for processing and action.

For more information about how the body receives pain, please read How We Feel Pain: How the Nervous System Detects and Interprets Pain by Erica Jacques, chronic pain expert.

how to understand chronic pain #chronicpain #beingfibromom #fibromyalgia
Photo by Yuris Alhumaydy on Unsplash

What is the path of the pain signal?

The pains signal’s path starts at the site of the pain (i.e. hand, leg, foot), travels along the nerves to the spinal cord, and up the spinal cord to the brain.

how the body feels pain

How do chronic pain patients process pain?

When living with fibromyalgia and chronic pain, the nervous system perceives pain differently and functions abnormally. In an article by Diana Rodriguez titled Why Do We Feel Painshe gives an accurate description of how chronic pain patients process pain:

“Normally, the central nervous system automatically inhibits unpleasant sensations like pain. But with chronic pain, the nervous system’s function is altered and becomes more sensitive to pain. The nerve cells in people with chronic pain may become so sensitive that the brain perceives even a gentle touch as pain….That means people with chronic pain physically perceive and feel pain differently — more intensely — than others.”

how to understand chronic pain #chronicpain #beingfibromom #fibromyalgia
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How does pain affect emotional and mental states?

Many emotional and mental stresses can arise from experiencing chronic pain. A person may become frustrated, irritated, sad or resentful. Depression and anxiety may develop or worsen with chronic pain.

Read more about the pain and mental connection with the American Psychological Association.

Experiencing persistent pain may result in a lack of sleep which increases pain and other symptoms such as depression. The no sleep, more pain cycle is a vicious cycle that many chronic pain sufferers experience.

Mind Your Head- The Mental Side Of Fibro #mentalanguish #beingfibromom #fibromyalgia
created by Brandi Clevinger using the image from © Wordley Calvo Stock at www.stock.adobe.com

Does a pain management class help?

The pain management class I attended was a life changer for me. In the months between my diagnosis and the first day of class, it was hard to accept my diagnosis and it was even harder to cope with it. My depression, anxiety, mood swings, and emotional state were too much for me to handle because I didn’t understand what was happening to my body.

Once I understood how my body receives pain and how it deals with it, I was better equipped to deal with it.

What is the biggest struggle you have with chronic pain?

Brandi

I'm Brandi, follower of Christ, wife to an amazing, supportive husband, blessed mother to four sweet children, and a fellow spoonie. Facebook-+-Twitter-+-Instagram

11 thoughts on “How to Understand Chronic Pain

  • Pingback: Yoga and Chronic Pain

  • March 6, 2015 at 4:49 pm
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    I have not taken a pain management class, I enjoyed your article explaining why chronic pain is different. It is a life-changer, and it takes time to deal with the repercussions. It is very difficult to mourn yourself, who you were, who you wanted to be, to reconcile that with who you are now. Auto-immune disease sneaks in and takes over and it takes knowledge, time and compassion to come out on top. Thanks!

    Reply
    • March 6, 2015 at 5:03 pm
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      I like the way you say “mourn yourself, who you were, who you wanted to be, to reconcile that with who you are now”. That’s exactly how it is and how I felt/feel. It does sneak in and take over.

      Thank you for reading.

      Reply
      • March 6, 2015 at 5:38 pm
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        Thank you for these insights. Although I have been living with fibromyalgia for about 17 or 18 years now (longer before the actual diagnosis), I have never had a class, did not know there were such things. Thank you for this vital information. I will also check out my area for a class such as the one you describe.
        Some days are better than other; the weather affects my body too. Again, thank you.
        Caring through Christ, ~ linda

        Reply
        • March 6, 2015 at 9:25 pm
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          It’s interesting to talk with my mom about fibromyalgia because like you she also suffered with it long before it was given a name. My generation of fibromyalgia and her generation is so different. We are continually teaching one another new aspects of the illness.

          Thanks for reading my article!

          Reply
  • March 9, 2015 at 8:31 pm
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    Wow! That sounds awful! That’s great that you were able to take a class and learn more though. I bet that really helped–if only because it would help you see you aren’t alone.

    Reply
    • March 10, 2015 at 12:50 pm
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      Yes, finding out that I wasn’t alone was the most emotional part of the class. It was a huge relief and a giant step forward in healing.

      Reply
  • March 25, 2015 at 9:47 pm
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    I had a roommate in college who suffered from fibromyalgia. Back then, people kept telling her it was in her head, but it obviously wasn’t. Thank you for sharing your story and continuing to educate others. Thanks for linking up to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Party. I have pinned your post to the Bloggers Brags Pinterest Board.

    Reply
  • December 16, 2016 at 9:21 pm
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    I need to go through this site and learn. There are no pain support groups around here. Our closest friends made some comments that showed me how little she really understands living with extreme pain all of the time. I have lost my MD of many years, my pain meds, in the face of a deteriorating back. I have fought depression for most of my adult life. The pain doctors around here will only treat you with the procedure that keeps the most money rolling in. It doesn’t matter that I receive no relief from the procedure. In fact the last treatment made it worse for about 9 months. They heard me in the waiting room my last trip there. I have lost me. I can’t cook or clean any more. I can’t easily go shopping. Sometimes I have been to return home because there are no riding cart for me to use. I can’t get my wheelchair our of the car because I can’t get the ramp set up. It’s too heavy for me. I had to give up a job that I loved. The people there were so supportive and easy to work with. I have lost me. Thank you for a place to vent. Sometimes it helps.

    Reply
    • December 22, 2016 at 10:36 pm
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      Thank you for reading my article, and I’m glad you have a place to vent. If you need help with finding a support group online or in your area, please contact me.

      Reply

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