Pain and chronic pain is a topic that many of our clients experience as a reality every day. This fairly recent National Public Radio report gives more details about what some of the research shows in reference to the brain and pain.
Although the headline in the original article is a flop, as people are often wrongly told “it’s all in your head,” the brain is a really important part of how the body feels, understands, and reacts to pain.
There are some potential lessons to be applied to injured workers, clients with personal-injury cases, and others who are associated with our law firm. However, as is the case with all research, be sure to speak with both your lawyer and medical professionals who know about your situation before making changes to a treatment plan.
“Our perception of pain is shaped by brain circuits that are constantly filtering the information coming from our sensory nerves, says David Linden, a professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University and author of the new book ‘Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind,’” according to the NPR article.
But sometimes those filters work differently than expected, such as when Complex Regional Pain Syndrome affects a client, an issue written about on this blog by firm partner Todd Bennett.
“The brain also determines the emotion we attach to each painful experience, Linden says. That’s possible, he explains, because the brain uses two different systems to process pain information coming from our nerve endings.
“One system determines the pain’s location, intensity and characteristics: stabbing, aching, burning, etc.
“‘And then,’ Linden says, ‘there is a completely separate system for the emotional aspect of pain — the part that makes us go, “Ow! This is terrible.” ’
“Linden says positive emotions — like feeling calm and safe and connected to others — can minimize pain. But negative emotions tend to have the opposite effect,” according to the NPR article.
A study that associate Jon Rehm recently referenced showed how the context of being appreciated at work made a difference to certified nursing assistants who were injured at work.
“… Higher-paid CNAs were injured less frequently than lower-paid CNAs. The study indicated that organizational factors really drove injury rates among CNAs. In other words, in settings where CNAs are truly valued, paid fairly and trained, the injury rates are lower. But if CNAs are treated as low-wage, high-turnover cogs in a machine, then injury rates are higher,” according to his blog post.
Finally, according to the NPR article, there is some evidence that because of how the brain interacts within different parts of itself, “that at least some people can teach their brains how to filter out things like chronic pain, perhaps through meditation,” said Stephanie Jones, an assistant professor of neuroscience at Brown University.
If you have questions about how this information can apply to your situation, please contact an experienced lawyer.