Part 3: Your Brain Can Be Your Enemy (The Brain-Pain Relationship)
As we discussed:
Most of the common plantar fasciitis solutions today fails. Both conventional and alternative.
That’s because there is a barrier that prevents your body from healing.
As you can probably guess from the title:
That barrier is simply your brain.
I’ll explain to you how it works and why. It’s important, so listen closely.
Our brain has two types of mechanisms that (implicitly) hurt the ability of our body to recover from plantar fasciitis:
- Pain management mechanism
- Stress management mechanism
I’ll start with the first one:
Pain management mechanism
Our brain has a pain management mechanism that helps us to cope with pain.
This mechanism works with every type of pain in our body, not only foot pain.
Before we continue we need a basic understanding of how our brain is responding to the pain in our body.
So please watch the following short Ted-Ed video and then come back to here:
The video is called “How does your brain respond to pain?”, by Karen D. Davis (neuroscience professor at the University of Toronto).
It’s quick, easy and brilliantly explain this subject:
Now you can understand why some people are responding better to plantar fasciitis treatments and others don’t.
It’s related to their “pain sensitivity”.
Listen closely on minute 3:00:
“This is why some people have greater pain than others. And why some people develop chronic pain that does not respond to treatment”
But that’s not everything…
In addition to that our brain is using another “sub-mechanism” for pain management.
It’s called central sensitization.
It’s what keeps you in pain even after various successful treatments for your plantar fasciitis.
I found a great article from Cleveland Clinic that explains this, I quoted what important for us (Source: A Hidden Cause of Chronic Pain: Why Your Brain Sometimes Won’t Let Go of Pain):
For years, painful knee arthritis hobbled you. Then you had a knee replacement. Why are you still in pain?
Blame it on your brain. “Your brain gets used to prolonged exposure to pain signals and adjusts to them,” explains pain management specialist Robert Bolash, MD.
It’s like adjusting to the weather when you move from Ohio to Florida, he says. When you first arrive, you’re hit by the heat and humidity. But over a long period of time, your body acclimates, and you can enjoy the weather.
In contrast, when your brain gets used to pain signals — a problem called central sensitization — you gain little benefit from it.
Two types of pain
Peripheral pain is the sharp or aching pain you feel locally — say, when bone rubs against bone in your knee.
Centralized pain is a more complicated type of pain facilitated by the brain and spinal cord.
“We’re realizing more and more that addressing only peripheral pain is not enough for patients who also have centralized pain,” says Dr. Bolash.
He compares peripheral pain to a rock concert. It’s easy to hear the wailing guitars and pounding drums during the event.
“But when the band goes home, chronic pain patients with central sensitization still hear the music,” he notes.
Although they didn’t mention plantar fasciitis specifically in this article, it’s also part of what happens in our case.
So what can we do?
Soon, I’m going to show you exactly how we can reverse the situation and get over this mechanism to cure plantar fasciitis.
But before, let’s explore the second mechanism that keeps us in pain.