Do you remember:
- the last time you banged your shin, the initial sensation was so sharp then it started to throb?
- when you burned your hand on the oven and your skin seared?
- how it felt when you accidentally walked through some nettles while wearing shorts causing stinging red bumps to erupt on your skin?
- the stiff, sore, aching muscles following your first (and possibly) last workout session at the gym?
- the white hot sensation in your toes and fingers from a long walk in the snow when you got so cold?
- what it felt like when you cut your finger?
- the last time you had toothache and had to visit the dentist?
Most of all, can you remember the pain you experienced?
The freezing, knawing, burning, stinging, cutting, jabbing, throbbing pain?
You probably don’t because once the pain of injury or illness has passed, the human mind is so good at muffling our memory of agony. Acute pain, the short lived pain we experience when we hurt ourselves, is an important part of our survival mechanism that teaches us to be careful but, let’s face it, if the memory of pain was too vivid, we would probably be too scared to live our lives.
But I now ask you to remember, to try and re-experience the pain you felt at a particular moment in the past. Now, imagine if that pain had never gone away. Imagine that there is no opportunity to heal but rather a constant base note of pain accompanied by frequent and unpredictable pain flare ups. You are beginning to understand the meaning of chronic pain.