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Apr 08

There are many levels of personal awareness and the human species falls on a broad spectrum when it comes to being aware of their surroundings, their thoughts and emotions, and the way their body works. Variance in levels of awareness can have a number of different effects on an individual, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the awareness of one’s own body, also known as interoception.

Individuals who are high in interoception are more aware of their bodies then those who are low. They may be able to predict when they are about to get sick, what types of stimuli produce pleasant or painful results, and how their body will react to different environmental factors. Knowing if you are high or low in interoception can also be helpful in determining how you will experience and manage pain. Those who are very aware of their bodies may be able to ward off, withstand, and even control their pain better than those who are low in interoception. Why? Here are a few reasons.

The Ability to be Proactive

Individuals who can identify which stimuli cause them the most pain or who are aware enough of their own bodies to be able to determine when they are getting sick can take proactive avoidance measures. This could include avoiding situations or stimuli that they know will cause them harm or loading up on vitamin C and rest when they feel a cold coming on. Athletes who are hyper aware of their bodies know when they need to hydrate, when they can push themselves further, and when it’s time to rest.

Higher Interpretive Abilities

The sensation of pain must pass through certain channels before an individual experiences the sensation. Pain produces a number of aversive stimuli that need to be interpreted by the brain before they are recognized as painful. Those with higher interoception are more aware of these messages and can therefore spend less time processing them. This frees up their mental capacity to deal with the pain more effectively or take measures to soothe it.

More Capacity to Deal with Chronic Pain

Because those with high interoceptive levels can effectively interpret pain and what it means, they tend to process and deal with pain better then their low interoceptive counterparts. Those who commonly deal with chronic pain, such as athletes, know what is normal and what is not and therefore do not become as anxious or stressed when they experience pain.

Do you know if you have high or low interoception? It could make a big difference when it comes to dealing with injuries or illnesses that cause chronic pain. If you have questions about how your interoception levels affect your pain tolerance and what you can do about it, please visit our websiteand schedule a time to talk to one of our pain experts.

Sources:

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Mar 25

Pain is an indicator of a threat as well as a trigger of protective behavior caused by fear. An individual undergoing pain will automatically get the urge to avoid or escape it as a self-preservation measure.

The pain cycle can be classified into four stages:

1. Acquisition: The threats associated with pain results in fear that triggers adaptive learning. The experience may lead to conditioned responses such as safety-seeking or avoidance.

2. Generalization: Persistence of pain-related fear may facilitate the development of chronic pain. This can lead to generalizing of protective responses to adverse situations of grief.

3. Avoidance: This reaction serves to protect the individual from harmful stimuli. However, once acquired, avoidance behavior may be notoriously persistent, hence maintaining the pain-related fear. The action promotes negative effect by altering positive activities, which fuels the maintenance of pain.

4. Extinction of pain: Prioritizing optimism over pain-associated adverse effects will ultimately break the pain cycle. Optimism may result in omission of avoidance behavior, making the individual learn inhibitory responses.

Prolonged pain has adverse effects. Most of these effects are triggered by fear of pain, which can be a key factor in development and maintenance of disability and chronic pain. These effects include anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Anxiety Disorder

Chronic pain sufferers have higher chances of having anxiety disorders. These pains usually bring about depression to the patient as they may lack sleep or even face stigma. It is important for clinicians to assess patients for psychological factors.
Chronic pain accompanied by anxiety disorder can be difficult to treat. Such patients have a lower pain tolerance and may be more sensitive to the side effects of medications than patients without anxiety. Treatment can be through drugs, cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation techniques and complementary treatment such as yoga.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Most patients who have post-traumatic stress disorder have a prevalence of digestive, circulatory, musculoskeletal, and nervous system diseases. There is also a noticeable co-occurrence of chronic pain in PTSD patients. The pain experienced by these patients is worse than their counterparts. This scenario is fueled by their exposure to psychological stress.

Both chronic pain and PTSD sufferers are stigmatized by the general community. The community perceives them as victims of their own actions. This mostly results from the existential and esoteric nature of both kinds of patients. Models that offer integrated treatments for both PSTD and chronic pain are available in healthcare facilities.

Pain management requires an efficient and innovative service provider. The specialist should be trained and experienced in diagnosing and treating any form of chronic pain. Do you need specialized treatment? Contact the Pain Care Clinic of Idaho for a pain-free life.


Mar 18

If you’ve ever been told that “pain is all in your head,” they may be right, but not in the way they were thinking. Pain is real, but science is demonstrating that our brains and nervous systems are actually physically changed through experiencing pain. Furthermore, stress and psychological risk factors caused by physical suffering can also help alter the receptors in our brains.

Suffering does not end with the physical sensation of trauma we experience. Studies have shown that pain is a complex process that actually has an effect on “perception, attention, mood, motivation, learning and memory.” The neurons in our brains are altered when we experience discomfort. This alteration can lead to or reinforce the effects of suffering. Another study revealed that actual lesions develop in our neural pathways and can contribute to agony arising directly from our nervous system. Normally, our nerves alert us to trauma so we can avoid danger. But when they experience chronic suffering, they can become hypersensitive.

There are certain psychological conditions which risk causing more physical misery. Feelings of depression, hopelessness, or anxiety are a common response when experiencing hurtful sensations. This is why the American Psychological Association also endorses psychotherapy in addition to other treatments when dealing with chronic pain. They have found that psychological therapy actually reduces negative nerve sensations. This demonstrates that painful sensations, the alterations they cause in our nervous systems, and our psychological responses to them create a vicious feedback loop.

Feeling stressed out also has a direct physical effect because the muscles in our body can cramp, increasing our discomfort. Biofeedback therapy can help teach patients how to relax their minds and bodies to control the stress responses which lead to worsening problems. This is an example of why physical suffering should be treated not only with surgery or drugs, but also with therapies meant to address our psychological and neurological responses to it. Drugs only disguise negative sensations and fail to attack the root causes of chronic misery.

Whereas psychological therapy can help moderate our experience of physical suffering, neuropathic treatment is therapy involved in fixing the actual malfunctioning nerve receptors. Scrambler Therapy is a type of therapy designed to retrain receptors to learn to recognize again what a non-pain signal is. Rather than the signals they were accustomed to receiving, the malfunctioning receptors will now become accustomed to receiving normal signals.

Changing nerve receptors is possible due to the property known as “plasticity.” This term refers to the ability of our brains and nervous systems to alter, change, or grow. In other words, the same property which allows nerve receptors to change because of trauma and harmful psychological conditions, will also allow them to return to a normal state. Scrambler Therapy is one way to achieve relief at the neuropathic level. Neuropathic therapy and psychological therapy are a one-two punch for chronic suffering.


Mar 11

Patients who suffer from emotional stress often also end up dealing with physical pain. Statistics show that people who underwent an event that led to psychology related issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder are at 15 percent to 30 percent higher risk of developing long-term physical pain.

One is said to be suffering from chronic pain when the physical pain lasts longer than what the process or injury normally allows. When you have chronic pain, moving becomes close to impossible. This leads to over-dependence on pain medication, which eventually can lead to addiction to pills, making the patient’s state even worse.

During a traumatic event such as a robbery, accident, natural calamity and other events, your nervous system goes into survival mode. Sometimes, the system will have a hard time reverting back to the normal mode. When this happens, stress hormones such as cortisol will be released on a regular basis. This triggers an increase in blood pressure and blood sugar levels. The immune system’s ability to heal is greatly reduced and with time, the following physical symptoms start to manifest.

1. Tension headaches

Tension headaches are the most common direct result of emotional stress. Research has shown that women are more prone to develop tension headaches than men and that between 30 percent and 80 percent of adults have suffered from these headaches at some point in their lives. The headaches normally result from tense muscles at the back of the head and neck. They create a lot of pain and pressure around the forehead, back of the head and neck region.

2. Chest pain

Most people associate chest pain with heart disease and other issues related to cardiac health. However, a significant number of people go to the hospital complaining of stress-related chest pains. Men are more likely to suffer from stress-related chest pains when dealing with work stress. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to suffer from chest pains when dealing with anxiety and depression.

3. Aches and pain all over the body

When you have a stressful and hectic lifestyle, it takes a toll on your muscles. The pain normally affects the neck, shoulders and the lower back. Tense muscles seem to have an unclear effect on brain chemicals. When the body is stressed, it is unable to regulate inflammation, hence the aches and pains in different body parts.

Other issues that result from emotional stress taking its toll on the body include reproductive health issues, damage to the teeth and jaws, hypertension, heart problems and chronic sickness.

The most effective way to relieve chronic aches and pains is by treating the cause of the stress. There are professional clinics where they deal with all types of pain from chronic pain, post-surgery pain and pain caused by previous accidents among others.

A consultation at Pain Care Clinic of Idaho starts with you making a call to consult on the available options. These include Inter-X- therapy, Scrambler therapy, Medical acupuncture and other solutions. Seeking treatment is the first step towards a stress-free and happy life.


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