Pain. It can stop you in your tracks.
A new injury can take time to heal and a significant injury can turn your life upside down, even if you know you’re meant to be getting better.
At first, people may be sympathetic to a new injury or a new condition, though as time goes on, we can begin to worry that we’re becoming a nuisance or that others think we’re putting it on.
Worse still, we can end up carrying around the idea of pain being ‘all in our head’ and that we should just ‘get a grip’ and deal with it. In short, we can feel like we’re losing control.
Let’s think about the mechanics of pain – and bear with me on this – because once we realise how pain is processed, we can begin to appreciate that there are things that can be done to manage the pain using hypnotherapy.
Pain is processed in the brain, even though the source of the pain might be far away, like in a leg, or the back.
Generally, pain signals are sent up to the brain to be interpreted: think of that brain as an old-fashioned telephone exchange that works out what kind of pain is rocking up, because there are a few different kinds of sensations that it needs to make sense of.
There are some important sets of fibres that send different messages to the brain:
- C Fibres.
These fibres chug away slowly, taking the pain messages of chronic (long term) pain to the brain, for example, messages about long term back pain. (Think ‘C’ for ‘Chronic’.) Often (but not always), chronic pain is nagging, aching, dull and rather spread out.
- A Fibres.
These fibres are fast and speedily take the pain messages of acute (new) pain to the brain. They have to be fast to tell us there is a current danger and it enables us to remove ourselves from the cause, such as standing on a pin. When those A fibres kick in, we’d forget about our back pain, because the new injury takes priority. So, here’s an example of the brain overriding and suppressing the chronic pain. (Think ‘A’ for ‘Acute’.) Often, acute pain is sharp, pointed, burning and is in a fairly specific place.
- A Delta Fibres.
These fibres are super-fast and whizz messages up to the brain. Only, these messages are not necessarily for pain, but for the sensations that we might feel if we rub our skin, such as rubbing our foot after standing on that pin. And because these fibres are faster than the simple A fibres, their messages get to the brain quicker, blocking out the pain that we would feel from the injury – and from that back ache.
So, we can see that certain natural responses can intercept chronic pain. We know too, that we can also override and suppress pain with the production of natural endorphins that we generate when we exercise. Soldiers in battle may not initially feel injuries because the dramatic fight or flight response outweighs the need to recognise the pain at that point. And of course, we can also interrupt pain signals when we have those sunshine neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, flowing around.
Interestingly, those chronic pain messages are processed in a part of the brain that’s also responsible for the fight, fight or freeze reflex. So when we are struggling with ongoing pain, it’s understandable that our mood might be affected as a result, as that same area is in overdrive!
And how then, can Hypnotherapy help me with my pain?
New, undiagnosed pain (acute) needs to be reviewed by a doctor, as does ongoing, undiagnosed (chronic) pain.
We know that new pain has a purpose: to alert you to a new threat to your body, so that you can do something about it. Generally though, in the case of chronic pain, we already know what the problem is, and the presence of pain tends not to serve a useful purpose (of course, worsening of the pain may mean that further medical support is required).
Hypnotherapy can support us to cope with the ongoing impact of pain on our lives.
Pain should not define who you are. You are far more than a diagnosis. We work with you, as a whole person, rather than just seeing you as a condition or injury.
As with all Solution Focused Hypnotherapy, we work together to consider and reclaim your future, to express and work towards the new future that you want. In addition to this, we also use specific strategies that help you to manage the pain. Our work together deals naturally with overriding those pain fibres and offering you a more comfortable, peaceful and fulfilling future.