Sunday, 11 September 2011

Taking Pains

"People with chronically painful conditions seem to become more rather than less sensitive to their pain. ...if you suffer from constant pain in a certain area you will actually recruit more nerve cells to register that pain. Unrelieved pain of long duration may therefore perpetuate itself even when the original injury is almost healed.

Distraction is a very effective antidote. It's common knowledge that the only sure-fire way to alleviate unpleasant symptoms is to have sex, partly because the brain is involved with too many important messages from downstairs to bother about routine complaints.

Intractable pain which has become established and self-perpetuating is extremely common, affecting literally millions of people in Britain. As the pain continues for weeks and months it is reinforced on every level. A very large proportion of people with chronic pain become clinically depressed, which makes everything seem worse than it is. They also develop behavioural patterns which make them more susceptible to pain.

It struck me during the last cold spell that if you hunch your shoulders to the wind and pull your jacket around you, you actually suffer much more from cold than if you do a King Lear and attack the weather head on.

... a variety of psychological techniques may also be used to convince sufferers that the pain won't get worse and won't kill them, that they can go back to work, that they can get out of bed, and that they don't need to take so many pills. The fact that these techniques often help in no way suggests that the pain is not real. All pain is real. But how much you suffer from it can sometimes be a matter of attitude."

Dr John Collee

Observer Magazine c.Feb 1991

Comments welcomed!


  1. Wow! What a thought-provoking post!
    I do know that after I visited an orthopedic surgeon about my knee, he said, "Walk. It isn't going to kill you. Walk as often and as far as you can. It won't hurt you, and it might even help." It still hurts sometimes, but every day we go out for a trek with the dog, in spite of knees, weather, etc. So far the dr.'s been right.
    Hugs, Carol

  2. Whatever we concentrate on expands-so if we put all our concentration on how sick we are we will feel very sick. Perception is everything. There is a power to positive thinking.
    However,if a person is in acute pain it would be very difficult to be able to think of anything else. If the pain is bearable,exercise and movement are hepful.


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