I get my brain is involved in my pain... but why does it feel so real?

I understand that my brain is involved in my pain, but every time I try to tell myself that, it goes against what I’m feeling in my body. Any thoughts?


oooh - good one. I’m just gonna hang out here and wait for someone to say something brilliant :wink:

Understanding how pain works is the foundation for moving past it. It sounds like there’s a disagreement between your thoughts about the pain and the physical sensation/feelings. As you start to understand how pain works, and why your brain is choosing to create the experience of pain, you’ll see that your thoughts and feelings are actually connected. Every physical sensation has thought and an emotion, and every emotion has a thought and a physical sensation. One of the most rewarding things about this process is starting to see that your brain is simply trying to protect you and that it even has a helpful message to share. This often leads to new self-awareness and growth. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Please join us if you want to learn more. I


Its the way weve been programed,that causes us pain.

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@Amanda_Hall another post you might appreciate :wink:

Hi @jkelley ! This is such a great question. I find it is so helpful to understand and remind yourself of the neuroscience of pain when it comes to exploring and working with your own chronic pain symptoms.

All pain is real pain. And, a cool thing about pain is that all pain is created by our brains. Pain is an alarm signal meant to alert us to a potential threat or danger. Pain is a protective mechanism designed to keep us safe.

If you are walking barefoot and step on a sharp piece of glass, your brain will sense that there is tissue injury and create a signal of pain to alert you that your foot is cut and needs to be tended to. Your foot does not create the pain. It is always your brain that creates pain, whether there is structural damage or not.

With chronic pain, and more specifically primary pain, the brain’s alarm system has become overprotective, and firing due to the perception of danger, rather than in the response to actual tissue damage/ physical injury.

I like to compare the brain ’s alarm / danger signal to a smoke alarm. Ideally, the smoke alarm goes off when there is smoke present, alerting you that there is a fire happening and is quiet in the absence of smoke. I have a smoke alarm in my hallway outside my bathroom- and any time someone takes a shower and leaves the door open- the smoke alarm goes off, misreading the harmless steam for smoke. With chronic pain, its like having a smoke alarm that is stuck in the on position, or is being set off by a stimulus that is not actually dangerous, like the steam.

With the foundation of understanding the neuroscience of pain, another helpful step in working with your own pain is to go through the process of identifying clear evidence for yourself that you have a diagnosis of chronic primary pain. @SarahZ shared a really helpful link in another post about primary pain that provides a comprehensive overview about the clinical criteria used to diagnose chronic primary pain- you can check this out, and specifically refer to the FIT criteria - to create an evidence list to support this diagnosis for yourself. Talking to Patients about Chronic Primary Pain - YouTube

If you are uncertain, it is super helpful to work with a practitioner that can help you determine if your pain is primary and rule out a structural cause. Having clear evidence that supports this diagnosis helps to take the fear out of sensations of pain.

When pain is present, being able to assure yourself that the pain is real, it is created by your brain, and the sensations are not dangerous, are all key in re-patterning safety, which is essential in changing your relationship with and healing from chronic pain.

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