Pain is nothing more than a specific response to a stimulus. A stimulus can take the form of many different things. We typically associated pain with being stepped on, breaking a bone or burning ourselves on a flame. All of these are a type of stimulus. In every situation the body is undergoing the same response, “Umm stop stop!” Our body has to responses to this stimuli. The first is a reflex, like the whole doctor hammer thing, the second is a biochemical response.
The first response causes us to move before we can even think about what is happened. This is a pretty cool response called a monosynaptic reflex (awesome name if you ask me). It basically means that the stimulus only makes it first synapse in a nerve and then goes back out to the location of the nerve causing the muscles to move.
The second type of response goes more into the brain. This response is the quasi-conscious response. This is where we say, “OUCH”, realize we got hurt and then this is where the body starts to take over!
As soon as you experience an injury, have a stimulus that results in the body interpreting the stimulus as pain, the body starts to fix it. The first step the body takes is to try and immobilize the area. After all, you got hurt why would you want to move? This is when histamine (yes the same thing that makes your nose run when you have allergies) is released to the specific area. There are all types of proteins, macrophages and a whole bunch of other things going on to keep you from hurting yourself again. This happens instantaneously and is known as INFLAMMATION, not to be confused with swelling. Swelling is the visible sign of inflammation. I know it is weird but they aren’t the same thing. It was an exam question once that I rocked!
Anyways, So once the inflammation occurs there is this thing called Second Cell Death Syndrome going on. Yes another cool word. Basically one injured cell explodes, then because that previous cell exploded it poisons others. Then more explode and more and more. It is kind of like something going viral on the web. One person starts it and then it spreads. We have to stop this madness in order to get the inflammation and the swelling under control. We have to break this process. This is the KEY to understanding pain!!!
The process is called the pain spasm cycle. If pain occurs there is a response of a “spasm” and if a spasm, some type of stimulus, happens then pain occurs. So the goal of any injury is to STOP. I am going to say this again, because it is important, STOP one of them. This will allow for healing to occur!! Which is the goal, right? As long as there is pain there will always be this spasm cycle. Your body CAN NOT heal if it is hurting, because if it hurting it creates the inflammation process then the spasm occurs and more inflammation then a spasm. I hope it is sinking in now!
I hope I have got your brain thinking about this system. Please ask anything you want about this system or anything that relates to pain or injury. I promise I will cover it on this blog.