How Does Your Body Sense Pain?

How Does Your Body Sense Pain?

The scientists are still finding out how the body senses pain which leads to the painful sensation. When the pain is sensed by the body, the pain receptors which are known as nociceptors get activated within the skin once the tissue is damaged. The signals travel through the peripheral nerve towards the spinal cord. The spinal cord starts sending the chemical messengers i.e. neurotransmitters which results in activation of other nerves in the dorsal horn that passes the signals towards the brain. The thalamus in the brain transmits the signals to the somatosensory cortex, frontal cortex, and the limbic system. Thalamus is the relaying station that transmits the signals on different portions of the brain i.e. somatosensory cortex which is meant for physical sensation, the limbic system that is responsible for emotions and frontal cortex which is responsible for the thinking process. In the end, the sensation which you feel is known as pain.

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In most cases, we probably react involuntarily once you get injured for example if your finger is pricked. In sudden cases when the finger is pricked, strong pain is generated and the reflex occurs through the spinal cord. Motor neurons within the spinal cord are activated and they activate the arm muscles which in turn contracts allowing you to move the hand from the dangerous sharp object. This reflex is seen within milliseconds before the transmission of signals to the brain.

Different senses are felt by different nerve fibers such as A- Alpha, A-Beta, A-Delta and C fibers. Sharp or pricking pain is carried through A-delta fibers while the dull or throbbing type of pain is sensed through C fibers. A-delta fibers are fast fibers while C fibers are larger, slow and are coated with myelin sheath which serves as the electric insulator. This indicates that when the finger is pricked, a sharp pain is experienced through A-fibers while the slow pain is experienced through C fibers. 

The pain is modified through several points in the pain pathway. The dorsal horn within the spinal cord works on the gate mechanism i.e. it either allows the pain to transmit or blocks from moving further. The gate control theory was forwarded by Patrick and Ronald Melzack during 1965 which shows the within the central nervous system, the gate mechanism is seen. When you touch a burning stove, the sensory receptors located within the skin get activated and the nerve fibers start transmitting the signals towards the brainstem and spinal cord and then to the brain where the pain gets registered. The gate theory indicates that messages to the brain can either be turned down, amplified or get blocked. This indicates that how athletes and other people busy in different things feel pain in later stages as the brain is involved in other things. A-beta fibers are the large type of fibers that transmit the touch signals towards the brain and can shut the pain gate and prevent the transmission of pain through smaller nerve fibers.

The severity of pain also affects the experience to suffer from pain. When you suffer from severe pain, you pay more attention to it rather than the milder pain. The location of the pain is also important

pain is originating is also difficult to identify in some cases. For example, if a patient is suffering from a heart attack then the pain might be felt within the jaws, neck, abdomen classified or arms so it gets difficult to identify the main point where the pain is originated. The pain is categorized into the following types i.e. nociceptive, neuropathic, psychogenic, acute and chronic depending on the timing and type. It is important to consult your healthcare professional whenever you are suffering from pain so that the pain can be immediately relieved.

Until Next Time,

Team Doctor ASKY!

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