Within the body tissues there are sensors.
And these sensors, when activated to a certain level, send danger message to the spinal cord.
The spinal cord then releases chemicals which activate chemical sensors in the next neurone meaning that that neurone gets closer to firing.
If there is a continuous activation of the sensors then chances are, all the neurones will fall like dominos and eventually the message will reach the brain (For the anatomy geeks out there, yes I know this isn't 100% correct but I'm trying to keep it simple. I like simple. Simple works!)
If there is no more activation of the sensors then the message may never reach the brain. Which means no pain…Yay!!
But when impulses from inflamed, scarred, weak or acidic tissues keep arriving at the spinal cord, over and over again, the neurones of the spinal cord adapt to meet the demand and therefore get shit hot at sending danger messages to the brain.
Over and over and over again.
That's not to say that there is more damage.
It's to say that, chances are, the spinal cord is just doing a damn good job (well sort of).
This is why things that used to hurt, now hurt more. This is referred to as HYPERALGESIA which simply means that we have increased our sensitivity (or have "an abnormally heightened sensitivity to pain" if you want the actual definition).
This heightened sensitivity is also why things that didn't hurt before, hurt now. A good word for this is ALLODYNIA (Definition - pain, generally on the skin, caused by something that wouldn't normally cause pain.)
So how does our sensitivity increase?
There are a few ways.
1. The sensors stay open longer and so become easily activated.
2. There is an increase in the number of sensors - so easier to activate.
3. Chemicals (which send danger messages) get produced right next to the sensors - more likely for sensors to be activated.
One of my clients got to the point that even having her skin touched or having the temperature change around her, caused danger messages to be sent to the brain.
This meant that the brain was being given wrong the wrong information. There was no danger. But still pain was produced.
This increase in sensitivity of alarm systems is nearly always a feature in chronic pain. Hence why, once again, I spend so much time with clients going over this information.
At the end of the day, pain is normal. But sometimes the process behind it is altered and dysfunctional.
It's not always about damage.
More often than not, deep down, we are all just sensitive souls!