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SCIENCEFOCUS

How your brain creates pain – and what we can do about it

How your brain creates pain – and what we can do about it

sciencefocus.com

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There is more to pain than just injury

Many people think that pain is the result of injury or damage to tissue. The reason for that is that pain warns us whenever we're experiencing tissue damage or are about to.

But there is more to pain. Our perception of pain is constructed from sensory info...

Pain is an indicator of injury, but not always. Some things like sunburn initially don't hurt. It only starts to hurt when our skin cells begin to die.

A more dramatic example is radiation exposure. It doesn't hurt while a person is exposed because they can only feel what the sensory nervo...

Activity in the neurons that responds to injury is called nociception. It allows us to recognise and label different kinds of damaging stimuli, such as slamming your hand in the door or burning it on a stove.

Researchers wanted to observe what happens in the brain when we're exposed to dam...

Nociception is often a part of the experience of pain, but it is not pain. It is not sufficient nor necessary for pain, for example, when we consider the pain of depression or grief.

So tissue damage can happen without pain, and pain can occur without tissue damage, and nociception that se...

Our complex nervous systems continually process and integrate information about the body, regulating and balancing the resources. We respond and adapt to what is happening to us or is expected to happen to us.

We do this by running simulations of informati...

Placebo can be a powerful treatment as it can cause pain relief or therapeutic benefit on the expectation of treatment rather than 'real' treatment.

  • Studies show patients expecting morphine increase the circulation of their own endogenous opioids in advance of gettin...

If we received a real injury, it wouldn't disappear because we use the power of positive thinking. Paracetamol does work for pain, and surgical and pharmacological interventions are life-saving and can reduce suffering.

But pain is complex. It is often caused more by what we think and fear...

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