Is Pain Physical, Mental or Both?
Is Pain Physical, Mental or Both
Is Pain Physical, Mental or Both
Pain refers to a variety of unpleasant emotional and sensory experiences that have connections with potential or actual damage to the tissue. It is impossible for people to ignore pain. The best way to treat any sickness depends on the doctor’s knowledge of the different causes and qualities of pain that the patient experiences. The noxious stimuli reactivity and sensitivity are vital to the survival and well-being of an organism. Pain travels through them to send signals to the brain. There are two types of pain namely chronic or acute pain. Chronic pain refers to a pain that lasts for a longer duration, and it does not respond to medication. Acute pain refers to pain that has a restricted period, whereby the primary cause is damaged tissue or act as a form of body protection of the injured part of the body to avoid more damage. Both types pain affect the state of mind of a person. Pain is both physical and mental. There are different ways of classifying pain, how pain works in the body, and various forms of pain management.
Classification of Pain
There are two main categories of pain namely physical and mental.
From the neurobiological perspective, pain is physiological, neuropathic, or pathological according to Clifford (Woolf, 2010). However, there are other forms of pain classification. Physiological pain also called nociceptive pain occurs due to a physical injury, whereby the body senses that something touched is too cold, hot, or sharp. It has a defensive responsibility whereby the victim needs to withdraw from touching the substance. Inflammatory pain occurs after a person has damaged tissue and the sensory organs amplify the sensitivity. The aim of the pain is to make sure that the wounded part does not get into physical contact with anything to quicken the healing process of the wound. Pathological pain is a pain that occurs when the nerves system does not function as required. It is a state whereby the nervous system is sick because of either the neuropathic pain or inflammatory pain or clinical pain. Other form pains include phantom pain, which results from someone having a limb amputated, or from a limb, that is not transmitting warning signs to the brain (Fogel, 2012).
Mental pain is similar in meaning to psychological pain, psychic pain, emotional pain, psychache, internal perturbation, or emptiness. This pain occurs when a person has an adverse feeling toward a situation, which does not have a physical origin but the victim suffers mentally.
How Pain Works
When people discuss pain, they refer to it as nociceptive. Nociceptive refers to the sensitivity degree to the noxious stimuli. Noxious stimuli are the stimuli in charge of alerting that damage has occurred to a tissue and then make the nociceptors active. However, if people do not get the nociceptive pain, they will end up experiencing a very serious problem and become indifferent or congenital insensitive to pain. Lack of nociceptive pain could result to people injuring themselves, fracturing their bones, damage their joints, having multiple scars, amputation, and cause death to the victim without know. Therefore, it is important for people to be able to experience the nociceptive pain because it would prevent them from injuring themselves. For example, a person would not burn their hand because they are unable to differentiate between hot and warm stimuli (Dvorsky, 2012).
Four different mechanisms help people feel pain namely the fiber, the spinal cord, pain receptors, and the brain. The human body comprises of various nerve fiber senses that respond to dissimilar physical stimuli. For example, some respond to cut, touch, pinprick, or running water. Depending on the physical contact degree, the nerve fiber releases some chemical responses that would manipulate how the person interprets the sensations. After people hurt themselves physically, the nociceptor sensory receptors in charge of nociceptive pain become active and can sense damaged tissue signals or a threat that damage may occur. After which they respond to the released chemical by the damaged tissue. When the nociceptor becomes active, that is what makes people feel the pain. Once the nociceptors become active, they send stimuli using the nerve to the spinal cord, and finally, the pain signals reach the brain (Dvorsky, 2012). This process happens in a second.
In the brain, the pain signals then head straight to the thalamus section then sent the signals to other areas for ongoing conscious and precise interpretation. For example, the cortex responsibility is to figure out the source of the pain and then compares it to other forms of pain. Also, the thalamus helps in the emotional response such as crying, being angry or frustrated. This process does not end upon receiving a response, but the process continues until the wound heals because the pain receptors will still be sensing the injury and alerting the person until it fully recovers (Dvorsky, 2012).
Pain is like a system that different factors affect it at any given moment some of this factors include fears, expectations, mood, past experiences and many more. It is important to note that the psychological foundation of pain has some neurological components involved. A good example is after the amputation of a person’s leg they may feel like the pain is coming from the amputated section when in the real sense it is coming from the brain. Therefore, pain is both physical and mental. Also, the same organs are used to decode and respond to the pain. For example, they both use thalamus and cortex sections of the brain. Also, emotions can influence pain. Emotions may affect physical changes directly. For example, when people become angry or anxious, their muscles tighten leading to physical changes that can cause an increase in pain. Therefore, emotional and physical pains interrelate.
This discipline mainly focuses on assisting people with problems in serious pain and helps them cope with it. It involves the person with the pain going to see a pain specialist doctor, a counselor, and physical therapists. There is no cure for most chronic pain. However, some pain may need less management while others that are complex may need sophisticated management. There are different ways techniques and skills of treating pain such as interventional rules, which involves the use anesthetic steroid or medicine injections to treat or reduce the pain. It also uses drug insertion or radiation to stop the nerve from working for some time. Medication management is a treatment method done by using different medicine on the various forms of pain symptom (Waldman, 2011).
Non-pharmacological therapies are optional treatment methods for chronic pain when medicine has not worked. However, it is important to note that sometimes the use of both medicine and non-pharmacological therapies collaborate to help the patient manage their pain. A good example is a therapy that uses cognitive behavior that involves modifying a person’s behavior to reduce the pain, increase sleep, physical functioning of the individual and how they cope with the pain. Other non-pharmacological treatment methods that are clinically acceptable to symptom management for helping relief pain and reduce fatigue are acupuncture, relaxation, mindfulness medication, and yoga (Woolf, 2010). Also, a person can use music, massage and exercises to help relief pain.
Music is another non-pharmacology form of treatment against pain. What music does is that it works on the part of the nervous system that controls people’s blood pressure, the brain part that controls emotion and feelings, and heartbeat functioning. When people listen to music, their heartbeat and blood pressure slow down, this makes the person breathe slowly. Therefore, it reduces tension in the body making the person relax and diverting the person’s thoughts away from the pain to the music (Waldman, 2011). It also helps in reducing psychological tension in an individual’s mind by stimulating the reward centers in the brain, which in turn produces dopamine that make people feel good. Therefore, bringing positive emotions to the person that in turn helps them to forget about the pain and concentrate on listening to the music.
Massage is another non-pharmacological therapy that helps reduce pain in patients. Massage helps people release serotonin, which is a chemical that reduces pain, massage helps a person sleep more, and this reduces pain. Massage helps the body to relax therefore improving moods and reducing anxiety.
It is important for people to exercise as this helps improve the general health of an individual. Physical exercise helps reduces the chances of being sick and lessen the duration some chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and many more would take. However, there is no evidence for the effect of physical exercise when it comes to pain. Physical exercise has no definite rules for the pain patient to follow (Woolf, 2010). For example, how long should a person exercise or how frequent should it be done or the intensity required. Most doctors advocate that patients should make some movement with their body instead of being inactive, as it will help the body health wise. The doctor should consider the personalizing individual’s need for the effectiveness of the physical exercise.
In conclusion, pain is a distressing emotion in the body that disrupts a person’s normal life. Pain is both mental and physical because they both use same organs in the brain to send the signals that there is tissue damage or an intention to destroy tissue. Also, the same body parts in the brain to indicate that the person is experiencing some form of stress due to a non-physical cause such as death. It is important to know that a pain specialist doctor, a counselor, and physical therapists use the same treatments methods whether the pain is mental or physical to treat their patients. They can use medicine for either physical or mental illnesses or non-pharmacological therapies to help them relax and change focus from the pain thus reducing pain. Research shows that it is possible to manage and treat pain.
Woolf, C. (2010). What is this thing called pain? Retrieved December 22, 2015, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2965006/
Dvorsky, G. (2012). Why do we experience physical pain? Retrieved December 22, 2015, from http://io9.gizmodo.com/5946522/why-do-we-experience-physical-pain
Waldman, S. (2011). Pain Management (2nd ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier/Saunders.
Fogel, A. (2012). Emotional and Physical Pain Activate Similar Brain Regions. Retrieved December 29, 2015, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/body-sense/201204/emotional-and-physical-pain-activate-similar-brain-regions
Benzon, H. T. (2014). Practical management of pain. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier/Mosby.