Your nervous system is constantly trying to regulate itself. In addition, your body produces all kinds of substances to regulate pain as well. Researchers discovered that our own body is up to 60 times (!) better at reducing pain than the strongest painkillers! Our own body and mind therefore offer many possibilities when it comes to regulating pain complaints.
This also explains why many people don't have any pain symptoms, whereas we might expect this. For example, in a very large study of low back pain, researchers found that there was no connection between back damage and pain!
In fact, researchers have not yet succeeded in demonstrating the connection between certain damage in the body and pain symptoms.
That sounds strange, but actually makes sense when we know how pain comes about. Travelling through our bodies, over the nerves, stimuli travel all day long. These stimuli warn of possible 'danger'. All these stimuli travel through your body to the brain. The brain decides whether the stimuli are converted into danger.
The interesting thing is, that the amount of danger stimuli does not determine how much pain is felt! Researchers have discovered that there are a lot of danger stimuli when you press a warm button on your finger, but this doesn't hurt. When they prick with a needle in the finger, there are fewer danger stimuli, but this does hurt!
So the brain decides whether or not it wants to turn a dangerous stimulus into pain. So the brain will make an assessment of how dangerous something is, and then decide whether it is causing pain. And because a sharp needle is more dangerous than a knot, the brain does make pain at the needle. Despite the fact that there were fewer dangerous stimuli!
How you can make pain-relieving substances yourself
If we want to do something with our own pain, we apparently have to teach the brain that there is no danger. This can be done in many different ways, and on this blog you will regularly find new exercises and tips. Some of the most important strategies are listed below:
1. Keep moving
Keep moving, and expand your movements slowly as well. The best way for your brain to learn that there is a danger is if you listen less to the pain. Do this in small steps, or with the help of a therapist or coach. And, your brain produces endorphins when you move, which inhibit pain.
2. Pay as little attention as possible to pain.
Try to shift your attention somewhere else when you are in pain, or notice that you are working on it a lot. The less attention the pain gets, the more it shifts to the background.
If there's a feeling pain can't stand, it's fun. The more pleasure you have, the less space there is left for the pain. Lucky substances that are released in your brain help with pain and make your brain create new connections more quickly.
4. Knowledge and patience
Pain complaints don't just appear, and don't (therefore) just disappear. Knowing how pain works is a proven effective strategy in reducing pain. It just takes a while. Keep immersing yourself in pain, and don't get discouraged when it doesn't want to, or the pain gets worse for a while. Remember that your pain will fight back when you fight. Your pain rightly thinks to protect you, and will do everything possible to keep it that way when you start working with it yourself.