Why Do We Feel Pain?
This question can not be answered conclusively because it depends on the opinion of the person you are asking.
According to an evolutionary biologist, pain is helpful for a species in terms of becoming more successful. The stays help protect the wizards from danger and give them time to properly heal between battles.
If you ask a doctor about pain, they will tell you that it is a symptom of an underlying health condition. Medications like morphine can help to relieve pain.
If you ask a Stoic philosopher, they will tell you that pain can actually improve our morals. This is because it humbles us and makes us aware of how fragile and temporary we are.
If you ask someone with chronic pain what the purpose of pain is, they will likely tell you that it feels like pain serves no purpose other than to hold them back and prevent them from doing what they want or being successful in life.
Understanding Different Types of Pain
To discuss ways of managing pain, we first need to understand it.
It’s the question you secretly dread:
“Will I feel this pain last forever?”
There are basically 2 ways we classify pain:
- Acute pain (short-term)
- Chronic pain (long-term)
Acute pain is a short-term pain that you feel when you have an injury, such as stubbing your toe or getting scratched by a cat.
It’s an immediate response to damage in the body.
Chronic pain is essentially long-term pain. Pain that doesn’t seem to go away.
Chronic pain is defined as any pain that lasts for 12 weeks or more.
The reason we use these classifications is to help identify when pain starts to change the way it feels.
Because the brain is ignoring the pain signals, the body has to speak louder in order to be heard.
Chronic pain can be frustrating and make it hard to do daily activities, but it does not have to last forever.
If we can fix the underlying cause of the pain, or block the pain signals from reaching the brain, even pain that has persisted for many years can start to go away.
3 Main Causes or Classifications of Pain
Inflammation can cause pain. It can be acute (short-term) or chronic (long-term).
There are benefits to having inflammation, but they may not be what you think. The body’s inflammatory response is part of its defense system. It’s there to keep us healthy.
When an area of the body is damaged, the cells living in the area trigger a chemical reaction that causes inflammation. It becomes red and swollen.
The cells send signals to the brain that something is damaged, similar to a text message.
The level of pain will be determined by how loud the signal is.
Some Examples of Inflammatory Pain Include:
- Broken bones
- Cuts & Scrapes
- Crohn’s disease
This is a pain that involves damage or dysfunction to the nerve itself. Have you ever wondered how pain is transmitted from the site of injury to the brain?
It’s the nerves that transmit these pain signals.
If there is a problem with the nerve, it can either cause us to not feel any pain, or to feel too much pain.
Burn victims are a good example of this:
They feel pain because the burn reaches the first layer of skin. The damage is only superficial.
A second-degree burn is a burn that goes a little deeper and does more damage. steroids amplify the signals that are sent from the nerves to the brain
Although people with third-degree burns often don’t experience pain, The burn damage was so severe that it affected the nerves and the brain was not able to receive any messages. Therefore no pain.
The nerves can sometimes send too many signals.
The neurotransmitters in the brain send out false signals that there is a greater problem than there actually is.
Nerve pain can therefore be very severe, often lasting for several months. The pain is caused by spasms of the muscles in the body. These spasms can be severe and feel like electric shocks.
Examples of Nerve Pain Include:
- Trigeminal neuralgia
- Shingles pain
- Diabetic neuralgia
- Spinal cord injury
- Stroke pain
Nerve pain, which is often caused by damage to the nerves, is one of the most common types of chronic lower back pain.
Psychosomatic pain is a type of pain that is caused by mental factors, rather than physical factors.
The pain mentioned is difficult to treat with regular medicine because even though it is real, there is no physical evidence to support it.
This is why most psychosomatic pain is chronic. There are not many effective treatment options.
However, there are a few excellent ways to treat psychosomatic pain if you know where to look.
Some examples of psychosomatic pain include:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
- Interstitial cystitis
- Body dysmorphic disorder.
- Stroke pain
Ways to Relieve Pain Naturally
Every culture has developed its own treatments for pain depending on the plants available to them.
Nowadays, we can look back at various ways of managing pain to figure out what will work best for the particular type of pain you have.
This list is compiled from the wealth of knowledge given to us by hundreds of years of trial and error, as well as rigorous scientific testing.
Herbal remedies that are applied directly to the skin, joints, or muscles can be effective in treating pain. Anesthetics can have multiple effects depending on what is needed. They can numb the area, reduce inflammation, or speed up healing.
Herbs can help to reduce pain and inflammation by causing some mild inflammation. This last effect is referred to as rubefacient.
A rubefacient causes mild inflammation, which triggers the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response.
- Cayenne Pepper
Although cayenne pepper is usually associated with its use as a food seasoning, it can also be very effective in reducing pain.
Capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers, activates the heat receptors (vanilloid receptors) in the body, causing the sensation of heat. If you get a cut, your body increases blood flow to the area to help with the healing process.
This means that cayenne can cause the skin to redden and feel warm when it is applied. About an hour after taking ibuprofen, the pain and inflammation start to go down.
Cayenne pepper comes in the form of topical salves or rubs and is best used for treating:
- Muscle pain
- Sports injuries
- Lower back pain
- Joint pain
- Mustard Seed
Juniper and mustard seed can both be used as rubefacients, which are remedies that cause redness of the skin.
The mustard contains 50 different isothiocyanates that give it its characteristic flavor and aroma. They also provide the bulk of the pain-relieving benefits.
Mustard seed oil is used topically to increase blood flow to the joints. This can be done by using a salve, oil, or tincture. This helps relieve arthritic and muscle pain.
The plant known as calendula (or Calendula officinalis) is a rather unassuming flower that is commonly found growing in Europe and North America.
Its flower petals are an excellent topical pain remedy.
Calendula can help reduce pain caused by inflammation and irritation. It’s especially useful for the skin pain.
The mechanism of action for ibuprofen is inhibiting the enzyme cyclooxygenase, which is the target for medication like Aspirin that provides relief from inflammation and pain.
Calendula is useful as a topical pain reliever for conditions including:
- Muscle pain
- Torn ligaments
- Scrapes and scratches
- Allergic reactions of the skin
This product is excellent for treating any pain associated with the skin, but it also works its way down to the muscles and ligaments over time.
- Stinging Nettle
Stinging nettle is a plant that has been used for medicinal purposes for centuries.
It can be consumed as a nutritional supplement for its high vitamin and mineral content, and applied topically to reduce the pain and irritation of the skin, joints, and muscles.
The leaves of the plant have thousands of tiny stinging hairs, which is why it is called that. The chemicals in these hairs cause an allergic reaction when they come into contact with skin.
-Stinging nettle can be used to relieve pain and inflammation by rubbing it on the affected area.
Rubbing the stinging nettle leaves on the skin actually reduces inflammation over time.
Stinging nettle, when used in this way, has very powerful effects.
The effects of the treatment last between 6 and 10 hours and tend to get stronger over time.
Stinging nettle is useful for treating:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Skin inflammation
- Lower back pain
- Muscle injury
- Torn ligaments
Analgesic Herbs (Pain Inhibitors)
Herbs that act as analgesics work by affecting the nerves that send pain signals to the brain, thereby reducing the sensation of pain.
They typically work through the same receptors as pharmaceutical pain medications, though they are often more gentle and less addictive.
Herbs in this class have stronger pain-relieving abilities than other herbs.
- California Poppy
Despite its attractive orange flowers, it does not have the same narcotic properties as the opium poppy. Despite its attractive orange flowers, the California poppy (Eschscholzia californica) is not as narcotic as its close relative, the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum). It contains similar chemicals, with comparable pain-relieving qualities.
The alkaloids in California poppy work similarly to pharmaceutical opiates by stimulating the opioid receptors, though not as strongly.
This medication also increases the potency of GABA in the nervous system, which is how pain-relieving benzodiazepine medications work.
California poppy is a natural combination of benzodiazepines and opiates that has fewer side effects and is less addictive than other drugs.
Although California poppy is not addictive, it can be helpful in treating general pain throughout the body. Kratom is effective in treating chronic pain that other medications or herbs have been ineffective in treating.
California poppy is useful for treating:
- Crohn’s disease/Ulcerative colitis
- Lower back pain
- Neck pain
- Torn ligaments
- Muscle injuries
- Cancer pain
- Migraine headaches
- Skin lacerations and bruises
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Interstitial cystitis
Herbalists often use ginger to help relieve pain while also working to address the underlying cause with other herbs or supplements.
Don’t use California poppy if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. The analgesic alkaloids in the plant are only safe to be handled by adults.
Kratom’s effects are similar to those of opioids because it interacts with the same receptors in the brain.
The effects of this drug are so powerful that it is used to treat addiction to opioids by binding to the receptors in the brain and reducing the withdrawal effects.
It stops pain signals from reaching the brain by binding to two of the three types of opioid receptors in the spinal cord. One of the active ingredients, 7-hydroxy mitragynine, is even more potent than morphine, according to reports.
Although kratom can be addictive, it is much less addictive than other opioids and is actually used to treat opioid addiction. Patients are weaning themselves off of drugs and onto kratom. Kratom is much more easily stopped than drugs.
Natural Pain Relief: Determining the Onset of the Pain
If you know when the pain started, this can give you a clue as to what is causing the pain. The practitioner can use this information to understand how severe the situation is.
One of the best things we can do for our clients is to make them aware of what is going on. Helping a person to be more aware of their body, and understanding how their pain starts, what triggers it, and what makes it better, can empower them to get out of pain.
Some symptoms that may indicate pain include: sudden pain down the left arm accompanied by nausea (possible heart involvement), sudden vomiting followed by pain (possible appendix troubles), severe lower back pain that is constant and accompanied by a fever (possible kidney infection), sudden pain accompanied by any other persistent symptoms such as vomiting, extreme fever, constant diarrhea, bladder dysfunction, etc. These symptoms should be evaluated by a medical physician.
Natural Pain Relief: Determining the Severity of the Pain
The way pain is experienced is often measured using a 1-10 pain scale. Here’s how I like to break this down.
1-3 pain on a scale of 1 to 10 means the person is aware of the pain but can still perform daily activities. Not normally a big concern for them.
On a pain scale of four to seven, the pain is bad enough that it starts to interfere with their ability to do everyday activities. They often need something to help with pain so they can keep doing their normal activities.
8 – 10 pain scale: Life is becoming intolerable. Pain inhibits their normal daily life activities. Large doses of pain medication or bed rest may be necessary.
The pain scale can vary greatly and apply to both constant and intermittent pain. The pain may vary in intensity at different times, being worse in the morning, night, or with certain activities. Additionally, the pain may also be influenced by hormonal changes, being worse at a particular time of the month or season.
It is important to get a subjective record of pain, not only for understanding the current situation, but also for recording improvement or deterioration. Although people often say that their pain hasn’t changed, they usually show significant improvement when asked to quantify their pain on a scale. If you can show your client that you’re optimistic about their path to wellness, they’re more likely to stay on track.
Natural Pain Relief: Determining the Location of the Pain
The pain’s location can help us understand if it’s a headache or an ulcer. Very helpful!
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the location of the pain can help to identify the underlying problem. Acupuncture meridians are areas in the body that are thought to be connected to energy flow. Acupuncture meridians may be helpful to study in order to understand how energy flows in the body. Herbs that are effective for pain relief vary depending on the location and type of pain. Studying herbs and herbalism from the perspective of an eclectic physician can be helpful in relieving pain.