Brain SystemNervous SystemPain

What is Pain and How Does Our Body React To It (2019)

What is Pain and How Does Our Body React To It (2019)

The International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP) defines pain as an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue injury or described in terms of this lesion. This definition is important because it recognizes that pain is an emotion, a sensory experience and a response to a “real” and “potential” injury. This last point is fundamental because the body will react in the same way to a perceived threat, whether it is damaged or not.

Defining Pain:

A limitation of this definition would be the fact that it is not clear that pain is a conscious experience produced by the brain in response to a perceived threat. All aware experiences, with hunger, thirst, what we see and hear, are shaped by the brain. There is a misconception that pain is created by tissues in which feeling is felt when in real pain has assigned a location (for the brain) that will prompt the patient to act.

Feeling Pain:

It is important to understand that science clearly tells us that pain is not an accurate indicator of tissue damage. Some examples may help conceptualize this point: the pain of the ghost limb when there is no limb, but the person feels pain and other symptoms, and the pain of a paper cut can be intense but the damage is minimal. In addition, there are countless stories of people who have suffered serious injuries but no pain at this time. The basis of this apparent variability is that the brain will determine if there is a real threat to the body’s tissues and then react appropriately. Even if there is significant damage, if something else is more important than the brain, you can set priorities and “block” the danger signals to allow escape or other actions.


 If you cross the road and walk on a nail, it should hurt you (nail in the foot, tissue damage, the brain receives danger signals from the foot through the spinal cord and reacts with pain to motivate a limp).

In Serious injuries, bombardment signals cause the development of sensitivity:

So what’s going on? In the event of a serious injury. Such as a sprained ankle or a wound. The damaged tissue releases several chemicals that sensitize the nerves. These nerves are usually calm and respond only when excited by certain chemicals. That is, its threshold is reduced to trigger signals. These nerves send “danger” signals. When they are excited to the spinal cord. Where they communicate with other nerves called secondary neurons. The bombardment of signals causes the development of sensitivity in the spinal cord. Which means that the subsequent signals are amplified.

Subsequent signals are amplified mean:

For us, this means that, in this state of consciousness. A painful stimulus applied to the affected area will be more painful. And a non-painful stimulus (light touch, pressure). Think of a hot shower with sunburn or pressing a blue one.

Brain Exit Painful:

The signal is sent from the spinal cord to the brain. Where it is analyzed in the light of past experiences, genetics, gender, beliefs, expectations, understanding, emotions and other factors. Then, the brain creates an appropriate response to the perceived situation. And, if in fact, one concludes that the tissues are in danger. The “exit” of the brain will be painful.

Changes in System Due to Pain:

It is important to understand that pain is one of the answers to many others. Including the healing process, reflex changes. And changes in blood flow, hormonal activity, and immune system processes. All of this and others are part of a general protection response. That serves us well in terms of survival. All this is normal and expected despite the unpleasant pain. But it is the central point of pain. That attracts our attention to be able to act.

Healing of the ligaments:

As the healing process continues. There is less and less need to protect the area and the pain often decreases. It is useful to know that the healing of the ligaments lasts approximately 42 weeks. And, therefore, the body has the right to protect the area for the duration of the treatment. Although in many cases the pain diminishes considerably after months or two if managed properly. Unfortunately, there are common situations where sensitivity develops and persists beyond a useful time.

Chronic Pain:

This is considered chronic pain because it survives the healing process. And is considered inadequate. That is, there is no useful purpose behind the pain. Which can be of severe intensity. This can be explained by many factors. Including the initial sensitivity generated by the changes. In the spinal cord that results from the initial bombardment with warning signs, early management. Beliefs about pain and injuries that determine the quality of life. Self-management and other psychological factors.

Multi-System Pain:

Pain is a multi-system outlet. Which means that experience is the end result of the activity of various systems in the body.  Including the nervous system, the endocrine system. The immune system and the autonomic system to name a few.

Network of Neurons:

We established that the brain produces pain based on a perceived threat. It is based on a network of neurons that. When activated, create the experience of pain. The network is known as neuromatrix. Which is composed of interconnected brain areas that perform a variety of functions but, once activated, produce pain. We have a neuromatrix for all experiences and activities. Such as talking, writing and walking. But certain types of activities are also visible. When we experience fear or other emotions. It should be emphasized that any part of the matrix can be activated. Then turn on the entire system and create pain.

Brain Region:

The range of brain regions involved includes those. That deal with movement, sensation, concentration, memory, vision, fear, planning, emotions, understanding, etc. This means that occasionally one of these assets can cause pain. For example, seeing someone lean forward can hurt your back. Or a strong emotion can make the pain worse. Understanding this neurobiology helps us create more effective treatment programs. That address different levels of function. And help the patient to understand their pain in order to better control themselves. It is clear that pain is a brain experience. So we must concentrate on that level.

Aware of pain through issues:

Our awareness of pain is moderated by many issues.

For example: Expecting something that hurts can increase the level of pain. Thinking that there is damage or something serious. Can affect the pain of fear and worry, stress, fatigue. And the functioning of the immune system can affect the pain. Of course, it is important to understand this because not only can physical actions be hurt. But emotions, thoughts, feelings, past experiences, culture, gender. And genetics play an important role. When the danger signal has reached. The brain that has already been potentially modulated in the spinal cord. Both locally and by messages from the brain and brainstem. The factors mentioned above are taken into account. If at the end of this brain activity and this analysis. The pain is considered a threat, then the pain will be felt.

Awareness of pain helping out in treatment:

As noted above, all this information about the influences on pain allows us. To understand more deeply the treatment that leads to the ultimate experience. Very often, people become inactive and continue to adapt. Their way of moving for fear of causing more tissue damage. In fact, what tissues really need is a movement to improve their health. But usually gradually. To reduce sensitivity by moderating the value of the threat. The brain becomes very good at producing pain. In fact, shows real changes in the structure. It has been shown to be reversible. In the phase with pain reduction and better movement control. However, this requires “brain training” and there are interesting new treatments based on neuroscience. That can help the system reduce pain. In short, pain is a conscious experience produced.

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