We now know from recent pain science research that there are visible and measurable changes that occur in your brain when you experience both acute and chronic pain. As your brain controls your body it follows that pain can have many far-reaching effects on all your bodily systems including movement, sleep, immunity, sweating, heartrate etc.
Acute pain is a protective mechanism often in response to an injury and is there to prevent further bodily damage. It’s like a car alarm going off to stop someone breaking into your car. Usually, this eases as the body repairs and recovers and returns to normal.
Chronic Pain is pain that persists after the injury has healed when there’s no obvious physical or mechanical reason for it. Based on your past experiences, memories, beliefs and the emotional significance of the original event, your brain has assessed that a threat to the body still exists and it becomes overprotective. A new neurological program has been created so that pain is experienced when there is a perceived but no actual danger to the body. That is, the car alarm goes off when someone simply walks past the car or looks longingly at it.
Having this warning pain happen frequently, easily and often without apparent cause changes a person’s behaviour and thinking which further alters their brain structure and function. So it can become an ever-increasing vicious cycle that the harder someone works to exercise their way to a healthy pain-free body the more their brain goes into overdrive to stop them. This occurs at a subconscious level so while it IS “all in your mind” it’s not something that you can “think your way out of” without assistance.