Spreading of pain

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    Hello Howard and Alicia and everyone,

    I would like to understand better why pain that has been learned by neural pathways of our brains sometimes/ often (?) spreads to adjacent areas and will even be activated by innocuous triggers. What is known about the neurophysiology of that?

    And s.th. completely different: I wanted to add some information about myself on this website but it didn’t work – any tip?

    Thank you and regards


    Thanks Beatrice.
    We have seen this “spreading” phenomenon for many years, and it happens more commonly than not! It’s the result of positive feedback loops that are triggered by the pain/fear/pain cycle. The more of what I call the “six Fs” (fear of pain, focus on it, fighting it, frustration with it, trying to figure it out, and trying to fix it), then the more severe the pain, the more it spreads, and the more other symptoms begin as well. This positive feedback loop can also occur with stress and emotional distress in people’s lives. These reactions feed back to the danger/alarm mechanism in the brain, which activates more danger.

    I explain it to my patients by saying: If you’re talking to someone and they don’t hear you, what do you do? Talk louder, right? So, your brain is sending you messages of dangers and you’re not hearing them as such. You’re not calming the danger signal but reacting in ways that make it need to “speak louder.”

    Does that help?
    best, Howard


    Dear Howard,

    thank you very much for your answer. What you’re describing sounds very comprehensible. And I have already observed such patterns in myself…
    Looking forward to learning more about all the interrelations.

    See you all next Wednesday.



    The most sensitive and “influential”, if you will, part of our brain is our DANGER SIGNAL. It is the part of our brain that keeps us alive 24/7. Without it, we would not know it is safe to cross the street and we would quickly miscalculate or ignore our environments and be killed or die. “Our environments” include both our external environments (e.g. “Is it still lightening outside?” or “That car is driving too fast”) and our internal environments (e.g.”why is my heart racing right now?” or “what is that sensation in my knee?” or “Ouch! Am I sitting on a pin?”

    Then, combine that with our fear mind – our memories, experiences (cognitive, physical and emotional memories), interpretations – all of that combining into our brain’s processing mechanism of PREDICTIVE CODING. Based our our past learned experiences, current new information is reinterpreted and then updated to the database to create new experiences.

    The problem is, like a computer, our fear brain/danger signal is only as “smart” as the information we put into it. The conclusion that we are in danger or are not in danger is simply AN OPINION, and, like so many opinions, when based on inaccurate or limited information, the opinion can be wrong.

    So, we have a danger signal (the engine light, if you will) being controlled by predictive coding (the car’s computer) which is in turn only as good as the wiring of the electrical board in the car (the opinion).

    So, the danger signal senses a sensation. Based on our past experiences, our brain’s predictive coding determines it MIGHT by dangerous. Then, our personal opinions begin to add information, “My doctor said I would never heal; I would just have to manage my pain”, “I read online that cauliflower is toxic and can give you stomachaches if you eat too much of it. Mom always made us eat raw cauliflower. Mom stresses me out. Mom is dangerous. Cauliflower is dangerous. Cauliflower gives me stomaches. I have a stomach ache.”

    Then, FEAR BRAIN chimes in…..”What other foods are toxic to me?” or “What other symptoms is cauliflower causing me? Maybe that sensation in my head right now is the beginning of a headache? Am I getting a headache? I have a headache now!!! Cauliflower causes me headaches too!! I have environmental sensitivities to cauliflower.”

    Another piece of the dynamic is that all of our SENSES MAGNIFY when we are in DANGER. We have all watched all of the nature shows and seen how animals have such amazing vision, hearing, smell perceptions. We, humans, do also. When we are in danger, all of our senses become more acute. Combine that with overly sensitive fear interpretations and everyone sound becomes a burglar, every smell becomes a fire, every movement becomes a falling tree and every internal sensation becomes a sign of disease or injury.

    Lastly, once we sense a danger, our BRAINS ARE COMPELLED to keep checking back!! Is the lion about to pounce yet? What about now? Is the lion closer than it was? Which direction is it going in?” or conversely, “What is my arm pain doing now? Will it get worse? Why did I just get that sharp sensation? Does that mean I have damaged nerves? Should I stop typing?”

    Thanks for the question. The good news is that once we understand how all of this works, we can get it to WORK FOR US AND NOT AGAINST US !!
    Alicia Batson

    Hope this helps!!


    Dear Alicia, thank you very much for your elaboration and vivid examples. I think this is exactly how the inner mechanisms and patterns work. I can affiliate with that, also, from my own experience. Thanks for taking the time to find words that make that clear.

    Best regards

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