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When we feel acute pain, we act according to our past experience, preset responses and other environmental and social factors, taking the help of some natural powers of our brain, we can even temporarily block our pain. Pain drives us towards action, prompting a fight or flight response.
Our skin as a whole network of ‘pain nerve fibres’ with nociceptors in the ends which send signals to the spinal cord and to the brain, where the perception of pain along with its intensity is felt by the individual.
The very concept of pain, where it locates and provides the severity of the problem, is an extremely important part of the human body mechanism, as it operates on various dimensions.
As soon as we touch a hot pan (thermal), our hand is located by the brain, along with the intensity, which is extremely unpleasant and diverts your thoughts towards it, demanding full attention (cognition), making us feel unhappy (emotional).
“I don’t mind pain, so long as it doesn’t hurt.”
Congenital Insensitivity To Pain (CIP) is a rare genetic condition in which a person does not feel any pain, with no warning signs of ‘hurt’ being registered in the brain even after the body gets injured or damaged.
No one with this condition survived till adulthood due to them not able to act on the(unfelt) pain, which could have saved their lives.
Certain temperatures and qualities in food activate the same nociceptors, like when one eats a red hot chilli pepper. This is dealt with by nature in a sophisticated way, as a certain chemical that is produced, called capsaicin, gets bound to our nociceptors, activating the same.
Plants disperse the chemical in ways that promote the spread of its seed and with plant reproduction through birds and bees.
Pain signal activates many regions of the brain like the brainstem, thalamus and multiple cortex areas. The brain surprisingly can suppress, amplify, reappraise and attenuate the incoming pain signal, coating it with emotions to turn up the volume.
The brain can talk to the spinal cord and suppress pain, like a brake, at least temporarily. This system is called a descending pain modulatory system, and results in a sort of placebo effect.
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