Pain is in the Brain?

As we mentioned last post, pain can literally be a pain in the neck, but it can be a very complicated process. We all will have pain in some form or fashion in our life, but what exactly is pain, and how can we get rid of it? That will be our discussion for this post. Pain can literally be a pain in the neck, but why do we feel pain, and is it all bad? To start this conversation, we need to understand the difference between pain and what is called nociception. 

Nociception is the act of injuring the bodies’ tissue(s), and that signal goes to the brain for interpretation. An example would look like this:

You are outside working, and you hit yourself with a hammer, building a deck, or prick yourself with a thorn planting flowers. In both scenarios, you have caused the nociceptive pathway to fire. In scenario one you hit your thumb with the hammer and have damaged that area, so the pathway goes to the brain. Scenario 2 you have cut yourself, and this also goes to the brain for meaning. Both scenarios the nociceptive pathway (pain pathway) is triggered and now the brain has to do its job to give meaning to the pain. What exactly does that mean and why is it important?

As we have discussed from previous posts, the brain has many jobs, and a lot of times, it takes the entire brain to do that job, this isnt any different when it comes to pain. Once the signals get to the brain (hammer and thorn) now the brain has to figure out what to do with the information. This is where nociception turns into what we all call pain. It is here where the brain gives the location of the pain, how intense it is, what type of pain, and what to do about it. Going back to our scenarios this final product looks like this:

When the hammer hits the thumb, it causes damage to that area, that nociceptive signal travels to the brain. The brain uses different parts to tell where the stimuli is located, was it from compression, cut, heat, etc and from that what type of pain is it (stabbing, burning, sharp, etc). Like we have mentioned, the body and brain don’t like being in pain, so once this happens, the brain sends out a motor response in the form of shaking the thumb, withdrawing the thumb, etc. This brings us to the type of pain that you may experience when seeing a chiropractor, such as deep pain, stabbing, sharp, stiff, etc. What is going on when we experience these types of pain?

When this happens, just like most pain, it is letting us know that there is something wrong with that area. Pain itself isn’t bad. It allows us to know that there is damage to that area, and we need to be more aware of it. What we don’t want is chronic pain (long-lasting). 

This can lead to long-lasting damage or damage that can be harmful to other areas around it. One thing to remember, and we will keep talking about, is the symptoms we are experiencing (pain, balance issues, headache, etc) isn’t something we just all of a sudden get. It may seem like we wake up with pain, but we have had this for days, weeks, months, or years. This is why it is essential to not only be aware of the pain but to get help with it. This is where chiropractic neurology comes into play and what we will be talking about in our next blog post. 

NEXT BLOG: You Don’t Just Wake Up With Pain!! Click the link below.

Leave a Comment