Our bodies have a remarkable built-in pain management system. When a new pain signal is received, it travels up to the brain where the pain is ‘recognized’ and the return signal triggers the pain. This all happens, of course, in an instant. If the mind knows that you have safely responded, and moved, say, your finger away from the flame, then after a few iterations, the pain intensity will begin to drop. Why is that? The injury is still very present. It turns out that there is a pain ‘gate’ at the spinal cord that can close (as long as we are not continuing to re-injure ourselves by using that finger that was just burnt).
Why do we not experience that pain reduction in all cases? The answer may be anxiety. If the mind fears the injury, the body receives the message that more harm is yet to come, so it must remain vigilant. With this simple visualization, you can learn to be curious (or mindful) about your pain. Notice, then, if the intensity of your pain remains constant or is reduced?
Always see your doctor, registered massage therapist, or registered physiotherapist, to be certain that you have identified the cause of the pain and that you are receiving appropriate treatment. Pain management practices can help to reduce the intensity of pain, however, that does not replace medical treatment for the injury or illness that it exists in response to.