Pain and Endorphins
Pain and Endorphins
Pain is important….it is very important and you couldn’t survive life without it. So you shouldn’t be doing things to try to “kill” it. Pain is helping you and when you feel pain it is trying to motivate you to change your behavior. If it hurts your back…for example…to bend forward … then… you should not bend forward…your pain will let you know what is your limit. Pay attention to it…it’s protecting you. If you have chronic pain…it is not because your pain system is malfunctioning…as is commonly thought in the medical profession…it is chronic because you have a chronic problem in your body that warrants the pain. Treating your pain with drugs or other pain “killing” strategies does not treat the problem.
Pain killing treatment, without identifying and correcting the problem, is a seduction (definition : to lead astray) and is irrational and will only lead to future health disasters.
Your perception of pain is ultimately determined by your endorphin system. Endorphins are your body’s only pain blocking chemicals. They are always playing a part in your experience of pain...24 hours a day. You might be able to say that they are your “pain regulators”. They are very powerful. They are at least 200 times more potent than morphine, which is the most potent pain killer drug known today.
Here’s how they regulate your pain. Pain is what keeps us from destroying our bodies. Our bodies are fragile and can be easily injured. If we didn’t feel pain as the result of our injuries we would never avoid injury producing behaviors and eventually this would overwhelm our body’s reparative capacities and facilitate our death. If you broke a bone in your leg and it didn’t cause any pain, you would continue to walk on it unaware of the injury and eventually your leg would become a bloody stump.
So you must have enough pain in you body to keep you from destroying yourself…but not so much pain that you are unable to go out in the world and survive the environment. We call this surviving the environment… “making a living” or as the anthropologist say, “ hunt and gather”. If you have too much pain, then you can’t go out in the world and make a living and survive. This is not as applicable today in the modern world, but if you were living 40,000 years ago and your survival depended of you going out to “hunt and gather” and you had a “bad back” you wouldn’t survive.
So this is where your endorphins come in. They will block the pain of your “bad back” so you can go out and “hunt and gather” and survive. This balance between having enough pain to keep you from destroying yourself and not too much pain so you can survive the environment…is playing out every moment in your body everyday.
This is why your back may have been painful years ago, but you feel fine now or maybe your back has just recently started to hurt again for no real apparent reason. Your endorphin system is regulating your “bad back” pain accordingly to what it “thinks” is best for your survival at that moment. It’s important to understand that the absent of pain does not mean you don’t have a “bad back” anymore.
Your “bad back” is due to hard contracted musculature (spasms) and your endorphin system can block the pain as the result of these spasms. So when your back is feeling good it does not mean that the spasm is gone. It just means that your endorphins are blocking the pain of the spasms for the moment.
Exercise and Endorphins
You have probably heard of what is known as the “ runner’s high”. This is a euphoric feeling that a long distant runner will sometimes get while running a long time with out stopping. It is usually thought of as being somehow good. It’s not. It means that the runner has done enough irritation to himself that the endorphin systems “thinks” he must be doing this excessive running because he must be running from something that is threatening his survival. So the endorphins will block pain so they can continue to do the “survival activity” with no distracting pain! Why else would he be doing this punishing activity….not for fun? Huh?
The reason people feel good from exercising is because their endorphin system “thinks” they are doing this activity for some important survival purpose. So when all your aches and pains are not present you feel pretty good. It does seem reasonable to think that all this exercise is good for you. You should understand that I am not opposed to exercise. I’m opposed to over-exercise.
Improper or over exercise is not a healthful promoting activity… it is an endorphin promoting activity. And any time you are producing endorphins it is because you are harming yourself.
Remember, pain is your body’s way of motivating you to avoid some behavior so you won’t destroy yourself, however, if your endorphin system interprets that the strenuous exercise you’re doing is being done for some important survival purpose…it will block your pain so your can continue to perform the “survival” activity.
This is not to say that all degrees and forms of exercise are not good for you. It’s the overly strenuous and excessive kinds of exercise that I am talking about here which I will go over in another article. The main point of this article is to get across to you the way endorphins play into your perceptions of pain.
Muscle Spasms and Endorphins
When a muscle is over-used, over worked, over-exercised, or injuried…it will cause the tone of the muscle to increase and we call this increased tone a spasm. A spasm has the capacity to send pain signals to your brain. But before this pain signal reaches your cerebral cortex…that part of your brain that is conscious… it passes thru a part of you brain called the amygdale which is where an important part of your endorphin system resides. It is here that your endorphin system “decides” if this pain signals is necessary to keep you from damaging yourself…OR…would this pain be distracting in your survival activities….and then lets the pain through to your conscious brain or not.
This means that you can have a hard spastic muscle that is neither painful or tender to the touch. This doesn’t mean that the muscle isn’t in trouble. In means your endorphin system is blocking the pain signals to your conscious mind because it deems this blocking of pain as necessary for survival. This is how you can have muscle spasms for years with out you being aware on it.
What Does It Mean When I Feel Worst Before Feeling Better.
Hard spastic musculature tends to increase your endorphin levels…so as musculature tone decreases and thus softened with NeuroSoma Therapy procedures…it is not uncommon for one to feel an increase of pain in the area being treated or even some other body area. This is because the amount of endorphins previously needed to block your spastic muscle pain now becomes less. So your endorphin system reduces your endorphin levels and you now feel the pain of the remaining muscle spasm. This is a good thing…here’s why.
First… you’re now aware of a spastic muscle you didn’t know about before and can now have it treated with NeuroSoma Therapy. Remember a spastic muscle is an undesirable state whether you can feel it or not. If it is spastic it is compressing nerve, vessels, and joints.
Let me put it this…If you had a tumor in your body which was putting pressure on an organ but you couldn’t feel it…would you still want to know about it. Or…if you had a blocked artery in your heart but felt no pain…would you want to know about it?
The heart example is exactly what happens to at least 50% of heart attack cases. They can have a blocked artery, even 4 or 5 arteries blocked with out pain. So the presents or absence pain is not the same as the presents or absence of the problem. The endorphins are in play here.
Incidentally, I think that is why people with blocked heart arteries don’t feel pain until it’s almost too late because they have spastic muscle through out their body keeping their endorphins pumped up blocking their pain.
Secondly…It shows that the NeuroSoma Therapy applied was so effective in softening the treated muscle tissue that the person’s endorphin system “decided “ that the amount of endorphins needed to block the original pain was no longer necessary so endorphin levels were lowered
This doesn’t happen with every treatment…but it happens enough that we want you understand what is happening when it does. It is no cause for alarm. It is a very good sign of improving muscle tone. As muscles become softer they no longer compress nerve, vessels, or joints...and this is only good. It means that you’re on your way back to better health and feeling good again in a lasting way.
Thanks for reading .
Dr Aaron Draper