Imagine the brain containing the equivalent of an old-fashioned telephone switchboard operator like in the old films. Sensory and pain messages are sent up the spinal cord via nerve fibres, and the switchboard operator determines which messages are sent to the brain.
There are various levels of messages:
– Chronic (also called persistent pain)
C-fibres are used to transmit messages. Throbbing, aching, burning, cold, soreness, itching, tingling, and numbness are some of the pain sensations associated with these messages.
The sensations are generally diffuse, as opposed to acute pain. This type of pain occurs after an injury has occurred.
– Acute (nervous system)
A-fibres are used to transmit messages. Compared to C-fibers, these messages travel much faster. The pain is sharp and distinct. It is the pain experienced immediately following an injury. A-fibre messages are prioritised.
For example, if you burn your hand on a saucepan, the message would be sent directly to the brain, and you would be unaware of your neck and shoulder pain at the time. This is beneficial to survival and adaptive because it allows you to respond to an urgent pain, such as letting go of a hot saucepan.
Special A-fibres transmit the fastest messages, which take precedence over everything else.
These are pressure, touch, and vibration sensations, which is why rubbing or massaging a painful area provides temporary relief. It’s a counter-stimulation to the stimulation.
There is another type of message, Neuralgia or Neurological Pain. This one comes from the brain and causes muscle spasms, which can exacerbate pain. This is advantageous to survival and adaptation because muscles surrounding an injured area brace and guard, supporting and protecting it.
The issue is that bracing and guarding muscles for long periods of time becomes habitual. This usually results in muscle spasms and increased pain.
Hypnosis can help you gain control over the switchboard that regulates your pain sensations. You can learn specific skills that will allow you to choose which pain signals go through to your brain.