Pain Is All In Your Head…

No, really. That’s not just a title…. Pain really IS all in your head! That’s not just me, trying to act like a tough guy. Pain is basically the body’s way to let you know that something is wrong. Either you have a visible or unknown injury, you’ve caused damage or something has caused damage to you, or you’ve been exposed to something that causes damage to you tissues.

According to an article by Medical New Today, pain happens when a signal travels to the brain for interpretation. Once there, the brain sends back a signal telling the body to respond. I’m paraphrasing there, but you can read the article. The point is, something hurts you, a signal is sent to the brain, the brain says, “that’s not good, stop doing that” and your body respond by feeling the unpleasant sensation we know as pain.

For most pains, like touching a hot surface, our body has a reflex system that forces us to pull our hand away from the heat source. This can apply to a number of different sources of pain, but I don’t want o dive too deeply into this aspect. Like I said, you can read the article. The article describes the types of pain as acute or chronic, with the former being sharp, intense pain that goes away shortly and the latter being long-lasting in some way or another. Both types have sub-types of course, because nothing is ever simple.

According to another good article that I found on HealthLine.com, the types of pain can be described as acute, chronic, nociceptive, neuropathic and functional. The articles describe all of those types in detail, so once again, I won’t get into it, but you can read the article. The important ones to remember are nociceptive and neuropathic, especially if you have Type-1 Diabetes.

Nociceptive pain is the one that’s caused by injury. Cuts, bruises, tissue damage… that fun stuff. This can be important for someone with Diabetes because those wounds need to be treated quickly and may have difficulty healing, depending on how well your Diabetes is controlled. Since folks with Diabetes are also prone to infections, treating and caring for nociceptive injuries becomes doubly important, from a health standpoint. It’s important not to ignore these types of pain.

Neuropathic pain is particular to folks with Diabetes as well, since it’s caused by nerve damage, which can be a side effect of Diabetes. Neuropathic pain is particularly unpleasant and since it’s associated with tissue damage that the patient generally can’t test themselves, almost always requires medical intervention. Other conditions can cause it, as well. My father has a degenerative spine, which causes neuropathic pain that’s also chronic, meaning he is in a constant state of pain. To add insult to injury (no pun intended) he’s also Type-1 Diabetic.

But now that we have the science stuff out of the way, let’s discuss the types of pain that you CAN ignore… Are there any? Since pain is the body’s way of telling you there’s something wrong, should you really ignore any of them? My thought is that there are forms of pain that you can work through. For example, if you’ve had a particularly rough workout, you’ll feel “the burn,” or an aching of the muscles.

When you workout, you cause micro-damage to your muscle tissue. As this damage is healed, you can experience passive aching and bruising and that fun feeling of being unable to use those muscle groups to do little things like, oh, I don’t know… get out of bed gracefully without looking like your limb has been lopped off in a bad Monty Python sword fight. Have at thee! This type of pain is temporary and will usually pass on it’s own, but you can certainly help it along by maintaining good blood circulation to those tissues, eating an appropriate diet containing protein and fibre that help heal and build muscle tissue and even icing.

If it’s particularly bad, you can wuss out and take something over-the-counter, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. But those are bad habits you don’t want to start unless you really have to. If any pain resulting from fitness is sharp, debilitating and isn’t going away, you may need medical attention. Muscle and ligaments tears are no joke and can sometimes be mistaken for an after-workout burn to some people. Whether internal or external, an injury requires medical attention is there’s blood involved, seeping out or pooling beneath the flesh.

Other situations that would require immediate medical attention are bone protrusions, whether they break the skin or not, hanging appendages (like an eyeball popped out or something) or paralysis of a body part. Learning and recognizing the acute pain associated with things like a heart attack, or “referred” pain. This means something like sore neck and arm when experiencing a heart attack.

Hopefully, your workouts aren’t extreme to the point where you’re dealing with protruding bones and heart attacks, but knowing the difference between these types of pain can mean the difference between maintaining one’s health or facing some serious problems. Different people deal with pain in different ways, as everyone experiences pain differently. What seems like a passive after-workout ache to one person may seem debilitating to another. So, it’s important to know your limits and how you experience things.

Pain is all in your head. Literally. This doesn’t mean that certain levels of pain can’t be managed and others should be ignored. The healing of injuries can be difficult for Diabetics, so it’s important to pay close attention, clean and bandage any injuries you get and get to your health professional if they don’t heal within days. Eat well, exercise regularly and keep your blood sugars in check and healing will be all the easier. Have you ever noticed that those three things (diet, exercise and blood sugars) are repeated through most of my posts? It’s almost like they’re important, or something…. ☯️

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Shawn

I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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