Did you know that the brain itself does not feel pain because it does not contain any nociceptors?

If you’ve been wondering about the neuroscience of pain, it is important to understand that there are no simple answers to this question. This is because the relationship between the brain and the body is very complex.

But it is still possible to make sense of why pain feels bad if you understand the basics of how the nervous system works.

To help you out, we’ve written a guide that breaks down the basics of pain transmission. Keep reading if you are interested in learning more.

Feeling Pain: Understanding the Role of the Nervous System

There are two main parts of the human nervous system. The first part is known as the central nervous system. It includes the brain and the spinal cord.

The second part is called the peripheral nervous system. It includes the motor and sensory nerves.

It can be helpful to think of the brain and the spinal cord as hubs. The motor and sensory nerves span out to connect the central nervous system to different parts of the body.

It is the job of sensory nerves to pass signals about events in the body to the brain. These nerves pass this information through the spinal cord.

The brain passes details back to the motor nerves. This helps humans to perform important actions.

The Role of Pain Receptors and Nerves in Identifying Pain

Imagine that you stub your toe on a rock. How does a sensory nerve in the peripheral nervous system know that the rock is different than a soft children’s toy?

The body consists of many different types of nerve fibers. And different types of nerve fibers respond to different kinds of stimuli. They also create different types of chemical responses.

These responses determine how you interpret sensations. Some nerves send messages that you associate with a soft touch. Others will only respond to deep pressure.

Certain pain receptors known as nociceptors turn on whenever you get injured, or if there is a chance that you will get injured.

This includes puncturing the skin or a deep scratch. Even if you stub your toe on a rock that does not puncture your skin, your foot’s skin will be pressed hard enough to make the nociceptors create a response.

This impulse will travel from the nerve and into your spinal cord. It will eventually make its way into your brain. This happens more quickly than you can blink your eyes.

The Role of the Spinal Cord in Pain Perception

Your spinal cord is a complicated bundle of nerves. Its job is to transmit all types of signals to and from the brain. It can be helpful to think of it as a freeway for motor and sensory impulses.

But your spinal cord does much more than send and receive messages. It is also capable of making its own basic decisions. People refer to these as reflexes.

One of the most fascinating parts of the spinal cord is known as the dorsal horn. It is a kind of information hub. It sends impulses to the brain and back through the spinal cord to the location where you’ve been injured.

This is why it is not necessary for your brain to feel pain and tell your foot to step away from the rock. The dorsal horn sends this message before the brain is able to interpret what has happened.

How the Brain Interprets Pain

Despite the fact that the spinal reflex happens at the dorsal horn, the pain signal will still make its way to the brain.

This is because pain is complicated. For example, if you suffer from chronic pain, there is still a part of your body that needs to be healed after your original injury took place.

It is also important to understand that there are many different types of pain. These different types of pain get cataloged within your brain. And you will probably start to feel emotions that are associated with this pain.

Once a pain signal gets to the brain, it goes right to the thalamus. The job of the thalamus is to direct this signal to different parts of the brain. Each of these areas of the brain will interpret these signals in different ways.

This is one of the reasons why there tend to be so many complicated psychological effects of chronic pain.

For example, intense pain signals that get sent to the brain’s limbic system tend to make people cry.

The Relationship Between Acute and Chronic Pain

After people heal from injuries, pain sensations usually stop. This is because nociceptors won’t detect skin damage or a potential injury. This is known as acute pain. You will no longer feel this type of pain after an injury heals.

But there are many circumstances when pain receptors keep firing. This might be a result of illnesses such as arthritis which continually send pain signals to the brain. It can be challenging to treat and identify chronic pain.

Understanding Pain Transmission and Why People Feel Pain

If you’ve been wondering why people feel pain, it is important to understand the basics of pain transmission and the role of the nervous system.

If you are seeking relief from chronic pain, we are here to help you. Don’t hesitate to book an appointment or TeleVisit once you are ready to get started.