Has your child's doctor told you what pain is?
What is Chronic Pain?
If you do not know or your child's doctor has not explained it to you, no problem! Because most of my patients (if not all of them) don’t have a clear understanding about pain, regardless of where they experience it.
It’s because pain is a quite complex phenomenon. But, I’m here to decipher the complex formula of pain as much as possible.
There are 3 main players in pain – pain sensors, spinal cord, and brain. First, there is a bunch of pain sensors (called peripheral nociceptor) in our body. For example, when we hit out funny bone (not-so-funny) in our elbow, the pain sensor sends the message through spinal cord to our brain. Then brain sends the message back down to the elbow so we say “ouch” and rub our elbow to feel better. See, this is how we detect pain, and our body reacts to the pain so we don’t keep hitting our elbow non-stop.
Let’s talk about the brain a little bit here.
So, when doctors tell you, “There is nothing wrong with your body. It’s all in your head” (sounds familiar??), remember, your brain is in your head! And, your pain is as real as it gets!!
Now let’s talk about what chronic pain is. Technically, if you have pain for more than 3 months (at least 50% of the time within the 3 months’ time frame), then you can say you have chronic pain. Welcome to the club of chronic pain you didn’t sign up for!
Wait, what about you who has been having pain for 2 months and 29 days? Well, it’s safe to say that you are pretty much part of the chronic pain club.
Speaking of chronic pain, because you have been experiencing pain for soooooo long, your body’s detectives have been working non-stop. They are exhausted but can’t rest.
Then brain starts to learn and goes to an “auto-pilot” mode. This is when these detectives start to send information in a wanky way. It’s like your detectives are sending false alarm when no emergency is happening in your body.
Isn’t it interesting, even when you are not hitting your head as we speak, your head continues to hurt? Yes, it’s very real. But your head is not in danger right now. That’s what chronic pain is.
Now, how many of you feel like you are the only one who’s been having chronic pain?
Hear me out.
Did You Know?
Remember, you are not alone in your suffering.
Chronic pain is there for a reason. One of the reasons is that it’s a protective function of your central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Your detectives are sending some messages to you, and it’s our job to find out how to help them and you.
What Kind of Pain?
Where can you begin? Chances are that there are 3 areas to look for. And it’s called a biopsychosocial model of chronic pain explained.
Now that you have some information about what pain is and why you may have chronic pain, I have a question for you.
Do you want to get better?
If the answer is YES, then I’m here to help you.
Check out how I can help you by clicking HERE.
Not ready to get better or take action yet?
No problem. I want you to feel empowered to take a step to heal from chronic pain.
If you are somewhere between yes and no, then please refer to the resources below to assist you further in your decision.
Dr. Rachel Zoffness’s website: www.zoffness.com
Boston Children’s Program – Comfort-Ability: www.thecomfortability.com
Dr. Tonya Palermo at Seattle Children’s hospital: www.seattlechildrens.org/directory/tonya-m-palermo/
Meg Foundation for pain management: www.megfoundationforpain.org/
Stop Childhood Pain: www.stopchildhoodpain.org/
Child Kind: childkindinternational.org/
This detective is a thinking detective. It focuses on what we think about pain. The more we think about pain, the louder this detective becomes (a high level of pain).
This detective is a feeling detective. When we have strong negative emotions about having pain, it yells at us (a high level of pain).
This detective is an attention detective. The more attention we pay to the pain, the louder this detective gets (a high level of pain).
1 in 4 pediatric populations (children and adolescents) have chronic pain
80% of those who have chronic pain also have sleep problems
You are 2-3 times more likely to have depression and anxiety if you have chronic pain (remember, detectives in your brain?)
Kids tend to have lower pain threshold (aka detect more pain that adults) because of...immature pain pathways (Tracey et al., 2019)
90% of those who have chronic pain also have school problems
75% of parents of children with chronic pain feel like they do not know how to help
How is your social circle: family, friends, school, hobbies/interests, social media, culture, religion, community? Their support (or lack thereof) can substantially affect your pain.
Maybe you are born with it (genetics). Maybe you had an injury or multiple injuries that “kick started” the entrance to the chronic pain club. Maybe your hormone has something to do with it. Maybe your diet and sleep habits are related.
Remember the 3 musketeers’ detectives in our brain? Yes, thinking, feeling, and attention. They are all part of psychological area. Maybe you have certain beliefs about pain. Your coping behaviors about pain is also hugely related to your pain experience.