THE SCIENCE OF PAIN: Truths, Myths & Understanding

This month I’m going to outline a few key points from a Finding Mastery podcast with Dr. Michael Gervais, where he discusses the science of pain and understanding it with Dr. Rachael Zoffness, a pain psychologist.


Special thanks to our patient Steve for bringing this to my attention and sharing. If any of you ever have suggestions for these articles, please let us know!


As an aside, I’d highly recommend listening to some of Michael Gervais’ discussions on other Podcasts such as Rich Roll’s, there’s a wealth of psychological perspective that can be gained.


I think this is such a fitting topic as everyone that sees us has some sort of issue causing pain or discomfort, and everyone experiences pain at some point in their life. At F.I.T. we know that there are many different things that can influence pain and when we treat, we do our best to educate and create an awareness that can lead to healing. We don’t fix injuries. Manual body therapy is used to facilitate healing. While a lot of the techniques we use help activate a response to promote healthy tissue and heal a physical lesion, there are many other contributing factors that might still cause pain.


If you suffer from chronic pain, this podcast might be the most important thing you hear to gain a different perspective and provide a gateway to pivot and hopefully reduce pain or even become pain free. Here is the link for the full discussion: https://podcasts.apple.com/ca/podcast/finding-mastery/id1025326955?i=1000570539252


Below I have outlined a few key points mentioned throughout the discussion that will hopefully spark enough interest for you to listen to the whole 60-minute conversation.

  • With chronic pain the brain has become confused and hypersensitive over time

  • People don’t need to be exclusively reliant on medication to deal with pain

  • Pain does not live exclusively in your body. Pain is constructed by your brain

  • Lots of parts of our central nervous system contribute to pain including the limbic system

  • The limbic system is the brain’s emotion center

  • 100% of sensory messages from the body filter through the brains limbic system

  • Pain is both physical and emotional 100% of the time

  • If you are not treating issues that contribute to emotions, you are not fully treating pain

  • Emotions are somatic (related to the body) and come out through the body (like being anxious and getting sweaty hands)

  • The things you think in your head, affect your body 100% of the time

  • In your central nervous system, you have a pain volume dial, and there are a lot of things that can adjust that dial

  • Pain will feel worse in situations where you are stressed and anxious

  • Pain is a biopsychosocial problem. It consists of biological, psychological and social domains

  • Biological (physical) components of pain only make up about one third of the pain equation

  • 96% of medical schools in Canada and the U.S.A. have zero training in pain

  • You can have pain or hurt in the absence of bodily damage

  • You can have very little pain with the presence of bodily damage

  • Learning about pain science can lower your pain volume

  • You can only treat something if you learn about it first


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