This is the 4th point of my ongoing series about basic concepts of pain many people don’t know or understand. Acute pain serves a useful function to help warn or protect us from danger and injury.
Acute pain basically means new pain. It is a necessary thing for your survival. It lets us know when something is happening in our body that might endanger us. Injury, disease, infection. You have nerve endings throughout your body that can sense tissue damage, extreme temperatures and inflammation. When these are stimulated enough they send signals to the spinal cord and brain. These are processed and action is taken. Pain could be felt. You might tense up. You might run. You might feel tight. Nothing may happen. This all depends on a variety of things including the amount of input from the nerve endings, but also context. What is happening besides that. What has happened before. Memories. Fears. Emotions.
Pain sucks. But it is needed. You need to know if you cut yourself, or broke a bone, or put your hand on the burner. And acute pain tends to be driven by these inputs of stress on the body. But there are always influences at play that make it more or less.
Next time I will talk about what happens when pain becomes more chronic.
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