What is pain?
Pain works in a simple way: the information “pain” goes up along a nerve, then reaches the spinal cord, and finally the brain! It has an essential role for the organism since it acts as an alarm in the face of a mechanical, chemical, or thermal stimulus. However, it loses this alarm status when it persists beyond three months. We then say that the pain is chronic.
Pain concerns nearly two-thirds of medical consultations.
How to quantify pain?
The perception of pain is a very subjective phenomenon and is specific to each person. The feeling can vary according to the emotional, socio-cultural, ethnological, or religious context. Brain imaging shows that the brain centers responsible for pain perception are linked to emotional centers. Therefore, a person will be more sensitive to pain when he/she is going through a difficult emotional situation.
To quantify pain, doctors use visual analog scales, graduated from 0 for no pain to 10 for maximum pain. For children, this scale often represents faces indicating different levels of pain. This subjective evaluation of pain helps the physician to link this pain to clinical hypotheses and to adapt the analgesic treatment.
Today, pain is well managed with analgesics: paracetamol, aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, or morphine and its derivatives for the most intense pain. However, these drugs can have significant side effects (gastric and renal disorders, tolerance and dependence on morphine, etc.) if they are used for long periods. They cannot, therefore, be a long-term solution.
Thus, when pain persists, it is possible to try to reprogram the perception of pain, by working, for example, on the beliefs that we have about pain, or by visualizing ourselves without pain. This is why non-medicinal approaches such as acupuncture, osteopathy, sophrology, or hypnosis are offered in pain centers and have proven their worth.
Diet and lifestyle also play a role in the sensitivity of the nervous system; a healthy diet and regular physical activity are to be favored to put all the chances on your side.
In conclusion, a method may be effective for one person, but ineffective for another. If the pain takes up too much space in daily life, you must continue to investigate, trying different options until you find the method that suits you.
This information is not a substitute for medical advice.
You must seek the advice of your doctor or another qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health condition.
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