You have just been rejected for a date with someone you’ve been very fond off….(sad face)
Your last rep of your deadlift; has left you with a stabbing sensation in your lumbar spine…
Why the two contrasting scenario’s?. And can they be interrelated?.
YES!; pain can be driven emotionally and physically!
The feeling of rejection, or mechanical irritation in a exercise lights up the same area in brain, the Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) In fact a paper by Eisenberger and colleagues (2003) found that participants in a functional MRI. Who thought they were playing a game against a partner, experienced “social rejection” and thus the ACC lit up; when the control stopped playing the game with the participant.
And what about ‘that guy’ at the gym; who lift’s rather poorly to use more kinder words (must not train at iNform). And you scratch your head and wonder, “how the heck don’t you get pain?”. And; that’s the complexity of pain ladies and gentleman. Pain is specifically, biologically innate to protect the organism of threat and danger. One’s organism has a highly sophisticated computer (Thalamus) that relies on multiple pieces of stimuli and memory to decide whether or not danger is present. Now; this happens faster than you you can cognitively process. Remember the last time you burnt your hand? did you have to think about pulling your hand away? No way! A-Delta nerve fibers reflex your hand away from danger. And the latent onset of pain is due to your C-Fibers (thermal and chemical). And don’t get me started on the Periaqueductal grey matter and free nerve endings
So; by now you can see pain is complex. And pain is needed for the survival of the organism. So why do 1 in 5 Australian’s (including adolescents) and 1 in 3 over the age of 63 experience chronic pain? Research has been looking closely at a important inhibitory neurotransmitter (GABA) and again your sophisticated computer the Thalamus. You can say there is a disconnection with specific communicative pathways in the brain (Thalamocortical rhythm) To put this in easy Spanglish, your brain learns to poorly discriminate, what is danger and what is not. And hence how chronic pain sufferers have widespread symptoms such as Fibromyalgia, with question marks over one’s etiology.
Let me teach you how to keep your Thalamus happy.
It’s your well being and immunity!
There is increasing evidence in a growing field (psychoneuroimmunology) that are well being and lifestyle influence are immunity and susceptibility to illness. Endotoxin’s are used intravenously to increase inflammation (without a pathogen) for research purposes to study the behavior of organisms (including humans). What I’m getting at, is psychologically/metabolically healthy individuals were imunosupressive to the endotoxin. So not only were there increases in pro-inflammatory’s (IL-6, IL-10, TNF) the participating individuals did not get SICK. Pain, especially when chronic is highly inflammatory. And thus being psychologically stressed, obese, lacking social connection and the big ONE lacking physical exercise. All off the above risk factors can increase pain modulation.
Have I answered your questions? probably not. Why? because there is no magic pill. And science is learning more about genetics and so forth. The big BUT is; that your well being is so important. Social connection, nutrition, mindfulness and of course EXERCISE are going to keep your vagus nerve happy and an abundance of serotonin and oxytocin to keep the chronic pain away.
Eisenberger , NIE, 2012. The pain of social disconnection: examining the shared neural underpinnings of physical and social pain.. Nat Rev Neurosci. , 2012 May 3;13(6), 421-34.
Henderson , LA, 2013. Chronic pain: lost inhibition?. J Neurosci, 17, 0174-13.
Lasselin, JL, et al., 2016. Well-being and immune response: a multi-system perspective. Current Opinion in Pharmacology, 29, 34–41.