Chronic pain can cause many changes to our bodies, in our lives and to our minds.
Chronic pain can lead to feelings of depression, hopelessness, mental and physical exhaustion and eventually a lack of motivation in your day to day life. But a new study suggests that a lack of motivation may be linked to the way our brains function after suffering with chronic pain for a period of time.
A study that was conducted on mice out of Stanford University School of Medicine has concluded that there are a specific set of functional changes in the brain when the body is in chronic pain that may potentially provide an explanation to a decrease in motivation in those who suffer from chronic pain.
Another study, again conducted on mice, also displayed significant changes in brain when the subject had chronic pain. These changes were focused on a group of nerve cells deep inside of the brain. This part of the brain is known to be responsible for the reward-seeking behavior that we as humans display. This is also where the sense of motivation would derive from. We as humans are programmed to be pushed towards goals that would likely reap rewarding results. The theory is that the changes in our brain can potentially cause a dip in our sense of motivation in all aspects of life.
When the pain source was removed from the mice in the study, the changes to the brain did not resolve, leading researchers to believe that the lack of motivation was not directly linked to the pain sensation, but rather to the changes in the brain as a result of the pain.
While this new research could potentially lead to a new path of treatment for those who suffer from chronic pain, more research is still needed on the subject before a conclusion can be drawn.
For the millions of people who suffer from chronic pain, hope can seem fleeting. Many anticipate that every day will be a painful one. The simple pleasures in life can seem to offer little to no reward when parallel with chronic pain. This can cause those of us who live with chronic pain day to day to become less motivated to go after the things that can bring about happiness and reward.
Physical pain levels are also a known cause of a lack of motivation. When the pain is overwhelming, we are less likely to walk that extra mile in life to get a rewarding result. Pain can also cause physical limitations and guarding of the painful areas, which also can be a factor in our motivation to reach a certain goal, regardless of what that goal is.
Chronic pain can change our lives in ways that we can never truly prepare for. Understanding that your life can still be lived to its full potential is the first step to maintaining hope and a good quality of life while living with chronic pain. Our pain does not define who we are. Have hope and keep moving towards the things that bring joy to your live.