Back pain is complex and often difficult to find answers for. 99% of people believe the pain means “there must be something wrong with my back.”

In other words the pain is a direct result of an injury or tissue damage. This may be so the first time, but when your back pain doesn’t go away or if it keeps recurring there is compelling evidence that the back itself is not the cause.

Scientists have found that the problem of persistent pain lies in the nervous system or to be really groovy, the neuro-immune system. It’s a complex interaction between the nervous system and immune system which ultimately serve to protect us.

Pain acts a warning signal and is a primitive survival mechanism in response to a “threat”. It gets our attention so we take action to remove ourselves from danger. We can then rest and heal. That “threat” may be tissue damage but you can also get pain without damage occurring.
Pain is determined completely by the brain. It is the master organ and is ultimately responsible for the pain response. Whether you have back pain or not, how much it hurts and where it hurts is all determined by the brain.

Nerves in your back send messages to the brain and it’s up to the brain to decide how important it is, taking into consideration lots of other information like memory (has this happened before) and context (what are the circumstances and implications of this). The brain makes a judgement within milliseconds whether the incoming nerve signals from your back warrant attention and ultimately if that experience is painful or not.

Pain is not all in your head. It’s real! However it’s strongly affected by what’s in your head. Your thoughts, memories and emotions are all nerves impulses too and they contribute to the network of nerves firing together that create the experience of pain. They change the brain’s perception of pain. In other words they change the ability of the brain to judge what really is a threat and what isn’t.

Be aware! The environment in your brain matters. How you’re feeling, what you’re doing, how focussed you are, all change your perception of pain. A sports person playing in the grand final with an injury is not likely to feel pain whilst they are focussed on winning the game. When you are focussed on something you love, something that is important to you and something that is of benefit to you, you put yourself in a position to neutralize the “threat”.

So keep focussed on what you love and ‘winning the game’ to relieve your back pain.