The International Association for the Study of Pain re-defined pain in 2020 as:
“An unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with, or resembling that associated with, actual or potential tissue damage"*.
But what is pain's purpose?
The National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association** states that "Pain is a universal experience that serves the vital function of triggering avoidance."
So, basically, pain is telling us to stop what we are doing.
If we hover our hand over a fire, we will automatically pull it away.
The message is clear.
What about the pain that isn't an unconscious reflex avoidance reaction, but builds up slowly?
A good example that I see often in my practice nowadays could be pain in the shoulders, the neck or the arms and hands. During Covid-19, most people have to work from home. But working in front of a laptop in our living room, stooping for endless hours every day, keeping our body in bad positioning, overusing specific muscle groups, will certainly lead to some sort of tension and pain.
The message is clear again. The body is telling us to move, to change our ways, our habbits.
What about the pain that isn't an unconscious reflex avoidance reaction, builds up slowly and we often have a difficulty on joining the dots of its causes?
A friend of mine recently told me that he suffers from migraines that started the last week. I asked if he knows what's caused them. He said he had no idea.
I asked if he changed anything recently in his lifestyle. Initially he said no, but with a little push, he "remembered" that he has started drinking a glass or two of whiskey every night, before going to bed, for the last couple of weeks.
In Chinese Medicine, alcohol is heating the body and often can upset the Liver, causing what we call Liver Yang Rising which can manifest as a migraine amongst other symptoms.
The message, now, was clear for my friend. He needed to drink alcohol less often, less quantity.
All these messages had to do with physical pain, with physical causes...
But what if we experience physical pain, but the causes are of an emotional nature?
Is that what we call psychosomatic?
Would we decypher the message?
How many have an upset stomach or pain in their bowels when they are stressed?
What about emotional pain?
What about emotional pain with emotional causes?
Feeling sad, angry, oppressed because we are in an abusive relationship, could be translated as our emotional body trying to deliver a message, could it not?
Would we listen to it?
What about emotional pain with physical causes?
A very simple example could be that of people experiencing chronic pain. In most cases there is a sadness developping with time.
People are very complex organisms. To find the real cause of one's pain is only the first step into their healing but it can often be a big one.
It is up to each individual to decide if they will listen to the message and if they will take action and make the changes needed.
A psychotherapist, an acupuncturist, a counsellor can really help you to understand the message.
If you are willing to listen, book your appointment now.