How Can Pain Appear?

Estimated read time 4 min read

Have you ever wondered how your brain processes pain? You may just know that pain is painful. Pain can be caused by damaged tissue or intense stimuli such as accidentally burning your finger on the stove, or getting your foot caught in a door. Pain is your body’s way of protecting itself from further injury or damage. This is a warning sign that you are close to something dangerous or that you need medical attention. Pain is usually the number one reason why people seek medical attention.

How can we feel pain?

The process of feeling pain is called pain perception, or nociception . Pain signals begin at the point of stimulation and travel down the nerves and then to your spinal cord all the way to the brain. This is the time when your brain will process and tell you to react to pain. For example, let’s say you accidentally cut your finger. There are several steps in the pain perception process:
Once you injure your finger, the tissue becomes damaged. When this happens, special pain receptors (nociceptors) are stimulated to recognize the pain.
Each receptor connected to a neuron sends a pain signal. These neurons connect receptors to the spinal cord.
Pain signals are then transferred to your brain.
The brain receives and processes signals to inform your body to react.

Sometimes the signals sent to the spinal cord can cause a rapid reflex action, causing you to react before processing the pain. For example, your motor neurons are activated and the muscles in your arm contract, moving your hand away from a sharp object. This happens in a fraction of a second – before the signal is relayed to the brain – so you will be pulling your arm before you are even aware of the pain.

There are several stages in which pain can be modified, amplified or blocked before they reach the brain. This is a fact when there are reports of someone who does not feel pain even when injured. For example, soldiers injured during war or sports athletes often say they don’t feel pain from their injuries until afterward.

Another example is when a child falls on his knee, if he rubs his knee, pain signals can be blocked to allow the sensation of touch to travel to the brain, as these two neural networks share the same network.

Different kinds of pain

Pain is subjective and sometimes difficult to classify. There are many types of pain, which include:
Nociceptive pain : caused by injury to body tissues. For example injured, burned or cracked (broken bones).
Neuropathic pain: Caused by an abnormality in the system that carries and interprets pain — the problem may be in the nerves, spine or brain.
Psychogenic pain: This type of pain is caused or exacerbated by psychological factors.
Acute illness: This is a brief pain that alerts the body to the damage done.
Chronic pain : Chronic pain (also called persistent pain) can be caused by ongoing tissue damage, such as in osteoarthritis.

The only people who can truly explain pain are those who are sick. This is why when you see a doctor, they often ask you to describe the pain. It is important to share every detail with your doctor to help find the most effective and best treatment for you.
How to deal with pain?

Once you know the process of how pain occurs, you can find ways to build a positive cycle to counter your pain signals. Here are some tips on managing pain:

  • Distract your mind by thinking about things to do and planning ahead
  • Distracting thoughts using certain distraction techniques
  • Move yourself in activities instead of thinking about pain
  • Find the things you have to do to make you feel happy and proud
  • Take control of your mood by challenging negative thoughts
  • Regular relaxation
  • Regular exercise
  • Solving problems in a relationship
  • Be firm and clear with others about your needs

Pain is a process by which the body protects you from harmful stimuli. But understanding how pain occurs can certainly help. You can trick your brain into managing your pain level.

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