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How to differentiate pain coming from the body vs the mind?

Dr. Lauren Leiva Pain, Injury, Physical Therapy

Have you ever been told, “your pain is all in your mind?” Well, I hate to break it to you, but it’s true! Pain is multifactorial and often misunderstood, but one thing I know for sure is that it IS always coming from the mind.

Most people I’ve come across think pain originates from the site of injury or where they “feel” the pain coming from the body. For example: “ouch I stepped on a rock” and the pain is coming from the foot or I have pain coming from my lower back. Nonetheless, as I just stated before, pain is an output signal from the brain, not an input. The brain’s main job is to keep you alive, and this is why pain serves a purpose. You have to listen to your mind and make necessary adjustments for survival. Pain’s purpose is to change your behavior, whether it is to step off that rock, change a movement pattern or removing yourself from a stressful situation.

So, here’s another question: If pain is an output to the brain and people have different brains, do people feel pain differently??? 100% the answer is yes. I’m sure you have seen a toddler run headfirst into a wall and just shake it off or you hear of an athlete who played with a torn rotator cuff or broken bone for weeks with a diagnosis. Then on the complete other side of the spectrum, you can see someone stub their toe and scream in extreme pain. Why do some people feel more pain than others?

The answer is…their threat bucket as they taught me in my Neubie Certification Training or the same theory in PT school, the “pain envelope stuffed with fears.” Some buckets (or envelopes) are fuller than others and eventually, it spills over and the result can be an increased pain response. Let’s start by acknowledging what fills the bucket in the first place:

  • Relationships Issues

  • Work Stress

  • Education

  • Balance

  • Movement Patterns

  • Lack of sleep

  • Eating Choices

  • Visual skills

  • Exercise

When the bucket is full then it all spills over. The mind will use common pathways to react to these threats and this is why some people have the same areas of pain flare ups or from previous injuries. The brain already knows these pathways were injured and it focuses all the threats on that region. Pain is a response to a threat or fear that is intended to create a change.

Pain Bucket the exerscience center

Therefore, sometimes just fixing some of the threats can reduce your pain greatly. For example: getting a good night’s sleep, eating superfood, accepting a job that you love, having a happy, and healthy environment. Working on these areas have much better outcomes than pain killers. I’m not saying they are never needed, but not a lifelong solution. Being diagnosed with Crohn's disease at 13, I have an in depth history of being prescribed pain medication but ultimately I always preferred natural methods and my first choice. God’s miracle plants, medical marijuana, superfood, yoga, meditation, and mindfulness were keys to my healing.

Dr lauren leiva

In summary, pain is intertwined with a threat, and an active output signal of the brain to create a behavior change. This change is usually for good, for survival. If you keep experiencing pain, as I say to my clients, we need to change something up.

Now what?? Come to The ExerScience Center as we practice with the technology, exercise, and manual therapy to reduce the pain output directly. Neubie is the technology of tomorrow available right here in Wesley Chapel, FL. With balance and proprioceptive movement training we will improve your brain’s ability to design a proprioceptive map, knowing where the body is in space. This is actually how I found this new technology because after being hospitalized with a pic line for 9 months I lost proprioception in my left arm and shoulder as well as had neurological sensations running all over my body from multiple gastrointestinal surgeries and the birth of my second son. This machine enabled me to move again. I didn’t lose muscle mass and I actually gained strength on both sides! My radiating sensations are not completely gone but do not bother me and illicit a pain response anymore. I have my function back and my pain is gone. That’s all I ever wanted.

Live pain free too! To schedule a consultation please call: 813.803.7070

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