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Pain and the Brain

Living With Chronic Pain/Illness

Chronic pains without physical symptoms and how to tackle them.

Pain, doctor, GABA, brain, meditation, diet, nervous system, mindfulness

Pain and the Brain

Chronic pain is one of the strangest phenomena out there. Those who suffer from it are constantly in distress although no discernable causes exist. Why does this happen?

Pain is the nervous system’s warning system, signaling that something is wrong and causing harm. When we physically hurt ourselves, sensory neurons send a message right up to the brain, which illicits motor movement, which makes you pull away from the stimulus causing you harm. Sounds fool proof, right? Well. The catch of the pain circuit is that the brain may fail to inhibit the circuit, meaning you will still feel pain when there is no reason to anymore, and studies have found that a reduction in GABA (inhibitory neuron) in the prefrontal cortex may be a cause. The sensory pathway, from the course of your pain up to your brain, may still be active, and GABA isn’t doing its job by blocking it - perhaps that’s why you feel a persistent pain your arm where you fractured it eight months ago. Since the brain is the most intelligent source on this planet, we must trust it. Here are some ways you can deal with chronic pain.

Know Your Pain:

If your pain symptoms are persistent and affecting your daily functionality and performance, you have to visit a physician – there is no question about it. Perhaps your fracture healed but the new bone is pressing on a tendon, or that constant headache with cold sweats might just be treated with therapy for stress. Either way, pain signals you to go see a doctor. Maybe conducting some prescribed tests or even simply talking about it will make you feel better and rule out your fears.

Control Thy Self:

When you train with weights or indulge in exercise that requires a lot of focus and attention, you

develop the skill for mindfulness. The mindfulness fad is real – those who ardently practice it have better control of their bodies. Not only that, exercise helps blood regulation and strengthens the body and immunity. Meditating daily will help calm your thoughts and most of all, enable you to control your mind. This means you will eventually be able to tackle your pain by being able to shift focus away from it.

You Are What You Eat:

Incorporating vitamins as per your doctor’s advice could help with the pains. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can also cause certain pains. Also try to avoid a high caffeine or high sugar diet – you don’t want to over stimulate your body, it may magnify the pain. You could see a nutritionist to gauge what your dietary needs are. Your body is a temple – as the famous saying goes – and should be treated as such. Be kind to it, and be wise. Be vigilant about your health, and speak to trusted family members and professionals if something does not feel right. And pain is the loudest indicator of seeking help.

Psychological factors

Sometimes the body holds on to traumatic events and can cause physical symptoms/ailments. If you have been through something and never fully processed it, AND you have ruled out any medical concerns, then it is time to see a therapist.

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