• Marc Nelson

The good fight against chronic pain

The root of all health is in the brain. The trunk of it is in emotion. The branches and leaves are the body. The flower of health blooms when all parts work together. ~Kurdish Saying

In our office we are constantly talking about the power of the brain to heal from above down inside out, a perfect example of this ability is seen in the control of chronic pain. Previously, we have discussed how chronic pain is a symptom of hypersensitive nerves. In many cases the hypersensitive nerves are a good thing and provide the brain with important information but there are other times when the brain needs to block pain.

Imagine you are stranded on a desert Island, you lost your shoes and you venture into the forest to explore your surroundings. Suddenly a wild tiger jumps out of the trees so you turn and run. As you run you step on a stick that instantly pokes a hole in the bottom of your foot. Do you have time to stop and yell? Of course not! Sure a hole in your foot is bad but your brain understands that getting eaten by a tiger is much worse so it releases chemicals that shut off the nerves and allows you to continue running at full speed. An example of this is the well-known surfer Bethany Hamilton who had her arm bit off by a shark. During an interview with CNN later in the year she said, “I was just in shock. I didn’t feel any pain, which I’m really lucky because if I felt pain things might not have gone as well”. This ability the brain has to turn off pain is called descending inhibition.

There is however a second pathway that the brain will use to actually increase pain called the descending facilitation pathway. This pathway sends chemicals to the nerves that make them more excited and causes excessive pain. In many people this may be over active, which makes seemingly normal things painful or can make that person more likely to have chronic pain fallowing an injury.

When it comes to pain of any kind it is our goal to balance the descending inhibition and facilitation pathways so that they work together to help us function. In our office we use neurologically based chiropractic care to help your body function properly, when coupled with other home training techniques it is possible to break the pain cycle and live the life God intended you to have. Make sure to stay with us for the next blog post, which will cover the techniques you can use at home to fight the good fight against chronic pain.