Pain As A Protection System

Did you know that pain is actually a protective mechanism? Pain is important for keeping our bodies safe. It notifies us that an event has occurred that may be damaging to our tissues so that we can make necessary changes to prevent harm. Not all pain is bad!

Our body experiences a constant flow of stimuli from our environment that is detected by receptors in our tissues. We have over 45 miles of nerves in our body that relay this stimuli into our brain and spinal cord. Our brain processes this information and decides how we should best respond. If it determines this input to be threatening, we understand this as a pain. If, for example, you stub your toe and there are no signs of major injury, the brain will determine that the threatening event has passed, your pain will subside, and you will continue on with your day. Various factors contribute to the brain’s decision whether or not a stimulus is painful such as past experience, additional life stressors, lack of sleep, overall health and happiness, etc. Because pain is determined by your brain and is influenced by your environment, you have more control over your pain than you may realize!

Physical therapists are not only movement specialists but are also highly educated about pain and the healing process. If an injury has healed but your pain is still present your physical therapist is there to help!


Written by Dr. Andrea Miller, PT, DPT

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