Emotional Wellbeing

Mandy Kloppers

How pain affects the brain

Pain is not a word – nor a feeling – that most people enjoy. When someone is suffering with pain in their body, it can affect absolutely everything in their life. Their family time gets interrupted with pill popping. Their work can be interrupted to the point that they are no longer able to work. It can start out as something that is a small, inconvenient niggle in a joint. Eventually, that’s something that can develop to affect other joints and cause more pain. It’s always easy to handle pain when there is something physical hurting your body. For example, when you have a splinter, all you have to do is take a needle and work out the splinter and add a band aid. In a few days, your finger is just fine again.

With chronic pain, you’re never able to remove it without help from medical professionals. There are effective options out there for things like joint pain and sciatica relief. But the constant suffering and pain can have a hugely detrimental effect on our mental health as well as the physical. Pain is debilitating. It affects your mental health and chronic pain is now recognised as a neurological disease in its own right. The longer the pain exists in your body, the longer it’s going to affect you and your mental health long term. Here are some of the ways it can damage your day:


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Mood. Waking up every day hurting can set your mood in the negative before your feet have even touched the ground. The emotional changes like depression, anxiety and fear can be felt very quickly with pain coursing through your body. The feeling that nothing is worth it is common, and the medications that someone is on can also alter their mood. It’s a balancing act with medication, and until you find the right one, your mood can be unstable.

Sleep. When you can’t get comfortable because your bones hurt, sleep is harder to come by. Not getting enough sleep has a hugely detrimental effect not just on the body physically, but the way that you feel mentally, too. Tossing and turning all night means your body and brain don’t truly rest, which makes it far harder to handle the pain.

Relationships. The side effects of constant pain can put a strain on the closest relationships in your life. There are physical limitations and it’s hard to keep control of your patience and tolerance levels when the pain is all you can think about, clouding your judgement and your opinions.

Memory. When you spend all day long concentrating on the pain in your body, your memory suffers. It’s all-consuming and can take away from the other things in your life that you need to think about.

The brain is a complex thing and when your body is plagued with pain, the brain can’t handle it long term. It’s a constant battle, so it’s important where to find help when you need it.

Mandy X