The Pain IS “In Your Head”

I am a surgeon

I have a problem being a surgeon and interacting with patients with chronic pain. I am trained to do surgery, so offering surgery is my first instinct. Referring physicians and my patients also often view surgery as the “definitive solution” to a given problem. When I walk in the room and tell people, “your spine looks pretty good to me,” they often explode with frustration. I have taken away their last hope. Trust me, I understand. You have “climbed to the mountaintop” to the final solution. You have finally decided to undergo a major surgical intervention with its attendant risks, but it is not even an option. It is like being sucker-punched.

The central nervous system

When I begin to discuss the role of the central nervous system you really cannot hear me. “You mean to tell me that the pain is all in my head!!!” That is correct. The pain is in your head. But that’s the only place any pain is sensed. It is the only place where the pain impulses are received and interpreted.

Chronic pain is a “programming” issue, NOT a “psychological” issue. With repetition, your brain becomes adept at efficiently processing input for any event, including ongoing pain impulses. With using methods that stimulate the formation of new pathways (neuroplasticity) you can raise the pain threshold. Avoid Surgery by Raising the Pain Threshold

The perception of pain

There are several issues that affect your perception of pain.  They are:

  • Sensitization
  • Memorization
  • Modifiers
    • Anxiety
    • Frustration/ Anger
    • Lack of sleep

Your brain adapts quickly

With repetition your brain becomes adept in efficiently processing the pain signals from the injured structure or inflamed tissues. Eventually these neurological pathways can “take on a mind of their own” even when the offending stimulus is removed. With time you cannot help but become more anxious and frustrated, which then affects your sleep. Your body chemistry changes, and you will perceive the pain even more. All of these issues are discussed in detail in specific posts.