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Posted on 08-21-2015

Why Pain?  Our danger sensing system

Humans have evolved over thousands of generations. Our body’s ability to tell our brains what is happening in and around our bodies has become very sophisticated. Sensors in the body give information about heat, cold, pressure, tension in muscles etc.
The body has also developed to sense when one’s body is in danger. This is a intricate system. It will tell us where the sensation is coming from, whether the danger is minor or severe, and will give us an indication as to what type of danger it is such as severe heat or cold, or even a pinch.  
Pain is an extremely useful tool for the body and the brain.  One thing that was gained modern pain research is that pain is an emotion and may not be proportional to damage to our body.  Any disease that interferes with or interrupts pain sensation makes it difficult to sense when we are in danger. This coupled with our ability to remember prior events and predict future events allows us to avoid pain and injuries.
Lorimer Moseley is a pain researcher who studies pain physiology and the interaction between the psychological and physical aspects of pain on humans. His knowledge on the subject is astounding. He also happens to be a very entertaining lecturer. Here is a YouTube video of a presentation Dr. Moseley gave at a TedX event called “Why Things Hurt”.


Unfortunately, pain is a part of life but, one that serves an important purpose.  It is the suffering that, with some understanding, can be modified and even reduced.  Some researchers classify pain as an emotion.  It can be one of life’s most powerful motivators, teaching us to take action to avoid it.  
This is why I am sharing this video.  People who are experiencing back pain, headaches especially chronic pain can gain valuable insights that will help them.   In other words, a better understanding of the mechanisms of pain can help us tolerate pain more effectively.  
Pain is a complex and fascinating part of being human that we can learn much from.  This is especially true when it comes to chronic painful conditions when the protective function of pain can become distorted.  Please watch this video or read Dr. Moseley’s book, Explain Pain.  I have found concepts in it to be very helpful in explaining painful conditions to my patients.

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