It is a fact that our brains had evolved to send one simple message about pain: It is bad.
However, there are many adages spreading around today that lead us to have a confused understanding of how physical pain works. Some of these include:
“No pain, no gain.”
“Pain is a part of growth.”
“Pain is temporary.”
While there are certainly some truths to these statements, it blurs the basic facts about pain in the context of a healthy body. For example, it may lead people to think that feeling no pain means you must push your body harder when exercising. Or, paying attention to pain is a sign of weakness that must be overcome to achieve a stronger body.
With a little research, you will find that this is not quite the path to healthy living. Just as a lack of exercise can be detrimental to health, excessive exercise is bad for you too.
This gets even more problematic if a person is suffering from any form of sensory integration disorder. Whether it’s the result of autism or other conditions like dyspraxia, there are serious risks to not feeling pain when you should. As we mentioned in a previous post, hyposensitivity is just as bad as hypersensitivity.
Here are just a few more situations that can show why:
1. Ignoring damage to the body.
Over-exercising is just one example of what happens when we become insensitive to the pain we feel from our bodies. It causes us to forget that pain is a signal that indicates a part of our body is being damaged.
Of course, the idea of building up muscle by straining it and even damaging it does have some merit, but what about cases of actual injuries? A person who does not feel pain sharply may have an improper assessment of a bruise, a wound or completely broken limbs.
These are injuries that still warrant immediate medical attention, and if a person can’t feel this in their bodies then that obviously puts them at high risk.
2. Bigger blind spots.
Pain and sensory processing also work together to improve what limited information we usually get from our blind spots. For example, a person who is hyposensitive in their hearing may not react immediately to the sound of a noisy construction yard behind them and, as a consequence, may act less careful regarding the dangers of staying too close.
The truth is some types of pain can be for the sake of identifying threats even before the said threat does any actual damage to the body. This gives us proper time to react and avoid unnecessary injuries. On the other hand, reducing the sensation of pain can render us less receptive and aware of whatever is heading our way!
3. Insensitivity to the limits of others.
Finally, if you combine the previous two scenarios, you will also get situations where a hyposensitive person can unintentionally show less awareness about the discomfort of others. For example, a person may end up listening to music at louder volumes thinking it’s fine, but the rest of the neighborhood finds it too disruptive.
The same can be said for setting the air-conditioning too cold, or being unaware of a bad smell from sweaty clothes. Pain has a way of alerting other people of these things, but a person with sensory processing disorder may lack the faculties to be aware of their discomfort.
To sum it up, pain is best understood for what it is: a signal from the body to the brain. And like all signals, the brain needs it to achieve proper sensory integration or else it will fail to notice threats and dangers from the environment. Being unable to feel it isn’t always a healthy thing!
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