Pain is a phenomenon of the human body that unfortunately is not well understood. Pain defined, is: “an unpleasant sensory experience caused by actual or potential tissue damage”. However in reality it is much more complex than this…
All pain, at all times, comes from the brain, not the injured tissues themselves. As pain is in the nervous system, there is no test or imaging modality to measure it. X-rays, MRIs, CT scans etc. all show the structures of our body, but this is not where the pain is coming from. This explains why two individuals with an identical MRI report (e.g. disc bulge, rotator cuff tear, meniscus injury etc.) may have very difference experiences in terms of pain and function.
Pain is directly affected by our thoughts, beliefs, emotions, stress levels, past experiences, behaviours and lifestyle. Often for people with persistent or chronic pain, these factors are just as important (if not more important) to manage as the injury itself.
The following video provides an excellent and easy to follow 5 minute summary of the complexities of pain, and for anyone who has had a persistent pain issue or a lingering injury, it is a must watch: