If you ask people why they’re in pain, they’ll probably tell you that they hurt their back lifting something heavy or stubbed their toe on the coffee table. But when asking why we feel pain, the answer is entirely different… and more complex than you may think.

You feel pain for the one simple reason of protection. When your brain registers pain, your first reaction is to immediately stop the action that caused it. It comes down to the “fight or flight” instinct, which is your body’s way of telling you that whatever is occurring is harmful, and that you should stop.

The process of pain

The process of realizing you’re in pain is quite instant. When you stub your toe, you don’t notice that it hurts five minutes later; you notice right away. Here is the typical pain process:

  • The pain begins at the source of an injury or inflammation, where the body automatically stimulates the pain receptors to release certain chemicals directly to the spinal cord.
  • The spinal cord carries the pain-message chemicals from the receptors up to the brain.
  • The chemicals are received by the thalamus and sent to the cerebral cortex, where the brain processes the pain message.
  • As soon as the brain receives the message, it sends a pain message back to the area of the body that you feel.

Acute pain vs. chronic pain

There are two types of pain that most people will experience in their lifetimes: acute and chronic.

  • Acute pain is short-term and usually experienced after a certain accident or injury. Once your injury heals, the pain will subside and won’t require additional treatment
  • Chronic pain is persistent, long-lasting pain, and usually caused by certain pain conditions, like arthritis or fibromyalgia. People who suffer from chronic pain will usually require long-term treatment.

If you’re tired of suffering from chronic pain day in and day out, call the pain specialists at Cedar Rapids Pain Associates today at (319) 540-8251 to schedule your first consultation.