Thursday, 30 September 2010

Pain - is it useful?

Most of us spend our lives trying to avoid pain. And usually with good reason. However, I would argue that there are some circumstances in which pain is necessary.

On a personal level, I have tendonitis in my elbows - a problem more commonly known as tennis elbow. The usual treatment for this is a cortisone jab or, in more extreme cases, an operation. When I first noticed that I had this problem, I resolved to go neither route. I realised that the pain was telling me something ("Stop using me!!!"), and that I needed to get to the source of the problem rather than eradicating the symptom - the pain. For this reason, therefore, I underwent chiropractic treatment and extensive rehab gym treatment, to get my whole body working together to support the screaming tendons. It worked ... and after a year and a half I had full use of my arms again. Presently I do very little to take care of the tendons, and occassionally the inflammation flares up again, telling me to take it easy (and more pertinently, to behave myself on a permanent basis!).

Another situation in which pain needs to be considered is in people who suffer from leprosy. I have learned, from reading about Dr Paul Brand a pioneer in surgery for leprosy sufferers, that this is one illness where the absence of pain is traumatic, as sufferers do not feel pain and can therefore maim themselves terribly.

I would therefore like to return to my question: is pain useful? I argue that yes, it is.


  1. Well, yes I would have to agree, pain is useful! Without pain we can't tell when we need a doctor, and this can even go on a higher level, like what about emotional pain...? Without it, we would practically be little happy people without a care in the world and deep and meaningful relationships wouldn't mean a thing...

  2. Hmmm .... you make an interesting point there - emotional pain. Let me think about that a bit ... :-)