evidence-informed strategies and encouragement for your self-care

Understanding Persistent Pain: The Hair-Trigger Alarm

chronic pain alarm system massage therapy holland michigan

Living with persistent pain is like living in a home with an alarm system that’s overly sensitive.

Normally alarms go off when there’s a big threat – like a door or window being forced open, or smoke from a fire. But with persistent (or chronic) pain, a complex set of circumstances has tampered with your alarm system’s settings.

It’s now set to go off for a wide variety of not-so-big-threats: like your mailman delivering the daily mail, or a neighbor’s dog barking, or a backyard tree branch falling onto your roof.

These aren’t really threats you need to be notified of, but your alarm system’s sensitivity level is of the opinion they are. And so off goes the alarm.

Also, when an alarm is going off all the time, the neighbors become on edge as well. This is why some of us experience referred pain - pain that has spread from one area to another due to oversensitive, overactive tissues.

It’s important to take a moment and recognize the alarm’s sensitivity isn’t a reflection on you, as the homeowner. You are as frustrated or confused as anyone else would be. Just as no one wishes their home electronics to go haywire, no one wishes for their persistent pain.

Understanding Pain Article Series

Understanding Persistent Pain: 3 Major Influencers

Understanding Persistent Pain: The Hair-Trigger Alarm

Understanding Persistent Pain: Yes It's All In Your Head. Everything Is.

Understanding Persistent Pain: Lowered Thresholds

Understanding Persistent Pain: It's Like Four Flat Tires

Understanding Persistent Pain: What About "Pain Is Gain?"

Understanding Persistent Pain: Mindfulness Understanding Persistent Pain: It's An Experience, Not a Signal

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Understanding Persistent Pain eBook

The nervous system is constantly evaluating a variety of cues and information that when combined create a pain experience. It's a complex process involving many parts of the mind and body. This guide will provide readers with a better understanding of persistent pain along with tools to reduce or manage it. learn more...


Hey there! My name's Raechel. I'm the author of The Bodies We Live In blog. I'm also a licensed massage therapist and owner of Massage Sci in Holland, Michigan.


In my free time, I enjoy writing about wellness; researching pain science; trying to grow things in my garden; being far too fond of semi-colons; and avid sci-fi nerding.