How does our Brain Perceive Pain in our Body?

Pain comes in many forms. Pain is very individual. How we perceive the severity of our pain or even how we treat the pain depends on how our brain processes the pain.

Research shows that there is so much more involved with pain and it can be very complex as it relates to our entire body system.


• Acute Pain is caused by an injury to the body. It warns of potential damage that require the brain to take an action and can develop slowly or quickly lasting minutes or months. The pain goes away when the injury heals.

• Chronic pain continues long after the trauma is over. It does not warn the body to respond and usually lasts longer than 6 months. It is more difficult to resolve because it may be as a result of trauma physically and also has an affect emotionally.

Our body is comprised of many systems and sub systems ascending and descending within the body. We are made up of organ systems like the nervous system or musculoskeletal system, which are in turn composed of organs like the brain and spinal cord, muscles and tendons, which are composed of cells like nerve cells and muscle cells and so forth. The Big Picture of Pain

Outside the body is yet another system that we perceive pain with and that is families and community. Here we are looking at a more complex phenomena – the role of thoughts, emotions, or social relationships on pain.:

According to Craig Freudenrich, PH.D, thoughts, emotions and "circuitry" can affect both ascending and descending pain pathways. So, several factors, physiological and psychological, can influence pain perception:

• Age -- Older people have lower pain thresholds and have more problems dealing with pain as the circuitry in the brain degenerates

• Gender -- Research shows that women have a higher sensitivity to pain than men do. This could be because of sex-linked genetic traits and hormonal changes that might alter the pain perception system. Psychosocial factors could be at work, too -- men are expected not to show or report their pain.

• Fatigue -- We often experience more pain when our body is stressed from lack of sleep.

• Memory -- How we have experienced pain in the past can influence neural responses (memory comes from the limbic system).

What does pain have to do with Pilates? We all deal with pain differently, but ultimately we don't want pain to stop us from moving. Pilates is a safe gentle way to move and is ideal for people who suffer from pain. There are various different types of equipment designed to help you get comfortable and be able to move with ease and grace so your body can start to produce oxytocin and endorphins.

Jocelyne Pelchat, owner of The Cornerstone Pilates, invites you to connect and discuss how Pilates may help with your pain.