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  • Writer's pictureJoana

Pain, that unwelcome friend (2)

Updated: Jan 27, 2022

If you're recovering from illness, or an injury, you might wonder. What is pain? and why does it sometimes linger way beyond its usefulness? It's true in a sense, that pain is our friend - it comes bearing information that is useful for our survival and our life in general. But sometimes, like it tends to overstay its welcome. Here is what I have found in my research about pain, and how I explain that after years of living with it, I was able to get rid of it so easily.

Pain is something that happens in our brains.

It is our brain’s interpretation of a signal that something is wrong. That signal is sent by a type of neuron called “nociceptor”. This is important because the feeling of pain can be dissociated from its origin, as it happens in certain disorders like congenital analgesia. Just like you can feel pain even though there is nothing there (like in phantom limb pain or neuropathy). When we experience physical trauma, say a broken limb or surgery, our brain receives overwhelming signals of pain. In the case of neuropathy, damaged nerve fibres send incorrect messages to pain centres in the brain.

Sometimes, in order to stop receiving these, the brain withdraws or stops processing neuronal connections and incoming signals from the affected zones. But that disconnection – which is intended to save your brain from overload – also comes at a price. You lose a little bit of the brain map. Lose too many bits of brain maps, and you are no longer able to move certain parts of your affected area, or you have perpetual contraction. The symptom (pain) becomes the illness: in cases of chronic pain, studies have shown that “the gray matter of the brain may shrinks by as much as 11% a year” because the brain rewires itself to circumvent the neurons that are constantly firing. That explains the brain fog, at least.

But brain loss due to chronic pain is reversible, and emotional, psychological and cognitive factors can influence pain perception.

So – instead of simply managing our pain with medicine, why don’t we also try to address the issue in our brains ? I think this is what ABM Neuromovement did for me: it allowed me to re-map the ‘forgotten’ areas of my legs, hips, chest and shoulder, at a safe and slow pace, by moving with awareness, so that my brain could re-learn to connect to these places without the nociceptors firing. This is the very definition of brain plasticity, the ability of the brain to reorganize itself.

If you are currently living with pain, please seek medical help first. If traditional pain management isn’t sufficient, or you want to experience something different, then I invite you to try ABM Neuro-Movement (r), or any other brain-based technique.

I’ll be happy to guide you through the process.

If you want to read some scientific studies about pain and the brain, here are a few links:

– Dubin, Adrienne E., and Ardem Patapoutian. “Nociceptors: the sensors of the pain pathway.” The Journal of clinical investigation 120.11 (2010): 3760.

– Flor, H., et. al. (1995). Phantom-limb pain as a perceptual correlate of cortical reorganization following arm amputation. Nature No. 6531, pp. 482-484.

– Vania Apkarian, A. , et. al. (2005). Human brain mechanisms of pain perception and regulation in health and disease, European Journal of Pain, Volume 9, Issue 4, Pages 463-484

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