Theories of Pain Video Transcript

Before going into techniques to help manage pain, it helps to understand why we feel pain and how our actions influence it.

The first modern theory of pain held that the amount of pain experienced was based on the amount of damage to a part of the body, often from accidents, aging of the body, or other causes.  This theory suggested that pain receptors at the place of the damage sent signals to a specific part of the brain to indicate the level of pain.

However, we know that the amount of damage to the body doesn’t always correspond to the amount of pain experienced.  After all, many people continue to feel pain even after the body has healed the initial damage.  Additionally, similar people with the same injury can feel very different amounts of pain.  In fact, in a condition called Phantom Limb syndrome, people can feel pain in limbs that have been amputated.  So we know that pain is more complex than just being the result of bodily damage.

Since that initial theory, a new theory called Gate Control has come to be more widely accepted as the best explanation for pain.

This theory states that during an injury, a signal travels from the spot of the injury, up the spinal cord to the brain.  However, there is a “gate” in the spinal cord that opens or closes, based on input from the brain and the body.  This gate determines how much information, and how much pain, gets sent to the brain from the body.

Certain things have been shown to “open” this gate, such as tension in the muscles, drug abuse, too much or too little activity, or even thoughts about the uncontrollability of pain.

Alternatively, other things can help close this gate: some types of medications or surgery, a sense of calm, and feelings of control over pain.  The Pain Coaching program will work on strategies for you to feel more in control of your pain and more relaxed, as a way to “close” this gate.

Now that you know more about chronic pain, the next step is to work with your coach to help set your goals for this program.  Your coach will help you identify important but achievable goals and help you break them into actionable behaviors.  Think about what kinds of actions and thoughts in the past have increased or decreased your pain. The Pain Triggers and Helpers worksheet has some examples that causes some people to feel pain. Once you’re ready, you’ll be able to access the videos for Module 2.

Thanks for watching!