Becoming more sensitive
Some pain can be considered an ‘everyday’ experience. For example, let’s look at a netball player, they can have an overzealous contact with another player to contest the ball, which can send them spiraling onto the court straight onto their hip or, a weird catch of the ball could have really hurt a finger or thumb. Despite these ‘hurts’ they would have shrugged it off and continued to play on.
But when an injury occurs, causing a substantial amount of damage such as a twisted ankle, it will create pain. The pain will initially stem from the inflammation process which happens with any acute injury to aid in healing and repair; producing the phenomenon called peripheral sensitisation. Body chemicals such as substance P and bradykinin are released, waking up dormant nociceptors which join with the existing nociceptors; increasing the amount of ‘danger’ messages being sent to the brain.
The area surrounding the injury becomes very sensitive and more painful which is called acute pain. Acute pain is a completely normal process which can start suddenly and usually lasts only for a short amount of time such as a few seconds, weeks or months as the body works through the healing process. Behind the
scenes the spinal cord is being bombarded with increased danger messages, and eventually it adapts.
This adaption creates even more sensitivity to the point where you might get pain referring elsewhere, or when someone touches near the injury it sends you through the roof (when normally it would not).
Next time we will look at what happens if this increased sensitivity does not let off and continues to persist into chronic pain.
Angela Young manages the team at Top Notch Massage Therapy. Angela has a military background in sports and recreation; and is currently in full time study of Health Science (Osteopathy).