Pain is a protective reflex. Without pain signals we would not survive. The pain causes us to protect an injured body part so that the injury does not worsen. We have receptors throughout the body that can send this type of signal to the brain. It is these signals that make us, for example, pull our hand away from a hot plate.
Sometimes the pain becomes chronic. If you have had recurrent pain for more than 3 to 6 months, it counts as chronic pain, which is classified as a disease. In the western world, as many as 20% of the population state that they live with pain that affects their quality of life.
In case of chronic pain, the warning signals are sent even though there is no longer any immediate danger. Doctors do not yet know why some people develop chronic pain and others do not. It is a complicated condition that is affected by many factors.
Physical activity has a positive effect on pain. When you move, hormones are produced that provide pain relief and increase well-being. Exercise in combination with improved self-management, has shown to have a good effect on improving the quality of life in chronic pain.
Although physical activity increases well-being, some types of nerve pain can be aggravated by movement. It is therefore important to find the right balance.
In 2020, the definition of pain was updated by the International Association of the Study of Pain (IASP) and the new definition clarifies that pain is always a personal experience. The pain is affected to varying degrees by biological, psychological and social factors. It is therefore important that each individual’s description of pain is respected.