Pain is a perception that tells us there is danger, caused by a noxious stimuli that can be temperature, mechanical or chemical in nature. Repeated exposure to this stimuli can cause one to develop, amplify and even maintain persistent pain without harmful stimuli. In the healing process, chemicals are released forming the ‘inflammatory soup’, which can further stimulate pain receptors, also known as nociceptors, into hyperalgesia or increased sensitivity to pain.
Whereas A-delta fibers relates to the sharp pain felt initially after a tissue injury, non-myelinated C fibers carries a burning sensation that persists longer, thus increasing the irritability factor. This would bring longer-lasting attention to the individual and motivates behavioural responses to limit further injury. An example would be occupational hazards such as lifting heavy loads daily. Prolonged tissue damage may occur to the individual and daily living activities becomes disrupted as simple tasks such as reaching overhead would be painful. Over time, he/she will be wary of and avoid overhead activities even though there is no pathophysiological change.
Li et al. (2013) found that negative emotions and pain-related memories could develop as one begins to avoid activities that would otherwise be harmless. This avoidance behaviour is also known as pain catastrophizing and can be characterized by rumination (‘I can’t stop thinking about how much it hurts’), magnification (‘I worry that something serious may happen’) and helplessness (‘There is nothing I can do to reduce the intensity of the pain’). The Pain Catastrophizing Scale is a 13-item questionnaire and has been found to be an important predictor of functioning and disability among individuals with chronic pain.
Find out if you are catastrophizing your pain by completing The Pain Catastrophizing Scale. If the score is above 30, then you are indeed catastrophizing pain!
In the next few articles we will share with you how to overcome the fear of pain.
If you read through all the above and still have any concern please feel free to contact me +65 8550 5466 as I do provide FREE Physiotherapy consultationover the phone.
Written by: Naazreen
Edited by: Bernice