Friday, September 30, 2022

Does The Brain Have Pain Receptors

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It Is A Myth That Humans Only Use 10% Of Our Brain

We actually use all of it. Were even using more than 10 percent when we sleep. Although its true that at any given moment all of the brains regions are not concurrently firing, brain researchers using imaging technology have shown that, like the bodys muscles, most are continually active over a 24-hour period.


Chronic Pain Is Brain Plasticity Gone Wild

Your brain is , meaning it physically changes form and function based on your repeated experiences, mental and physical. Neurons that fire together wire together strengthening and increasing their connections, firing faster, and becoming more efficient. The opposite is also true, and connections are weakened and lost over time when neurons are not activated together. Neuroplasticity is both a blessing and a curse and chronic pain is brain plasticity gone wild. Acute pain is your bodys way of getting you to immediately attend to injury or disease. Chronic pain is acute pains uglier, stronger ghost.

Signals from parts of the body are processed in the brain with adjacent body areas usually represented beside each other in the brain. When pain receptors in one body areas pain map fire repeatedly, they can undergo neuroplastic change, becoming stronger and more sensitive and even enlarging the brain map , and continue firing after the original cause of the pain is gone. Pain signals can even spill onto other brain maps causing whats known as referred pain in completely different parts of the body.

When this happens, the pain isnt in the body anymore.  Its is in the brain. A vicious cycle of the pain reinforcing itself has taken hold and the bodys alarm system in the brain is stuck on.

How The Nervous System Detects And Interprets Pain

editorial processScott Zashin, MDMedical Review Board

How does your brain know when you feel pain? How does it know the difference between the soft touch of a feather and a needle prick? And, how does that information get to your body in time to respond? How does acute pain become chronic pain? These are not simple answers, but with a little explanation about how the nervous system works, you should be able to understand the basics.

A Brain Freeze Is Really A Warning Signal

Officially called a sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia, a brain freeze happens when you eat or drink something thats too cold. It chills the blood vessels and arteries in the very back of the throat, including the ones that take blood to your brain. These constrict when theyre cold and open back up when theyre warm again, causing the pain in your forehead. This is your brain telling you to stop what you are doing to prevent unwanted changes due to temperature.


Brain Activity Can Power A Small Light Bulb

What are Cannabinoid Receptors?

When you are awake, your brain generates about 12-25 watts of electricity which is enough to power a small light bulb. The brain also works fast. The information going from your arms/legs to your brain travels at a speed of 150-260 miles per hour. The brain consumes glucose from the body to produce this amount of the energy.


Sensing Pain: A Relay From Stubbed Toe To Brain

In your body, there are special sensory neurons called nociceptors whose job it is to tell the body this feels bad! . There are many different kinds of nociceptors; some detect harmful chemicals , others harmful temperatures , and still others detect bodily damage . Nociceptors can also differ in the way they relay messages to the brain. Some, called A-fibers, have a fatty myelin sheath surrounding their long, arm-like axons that acts like insulation on a wire to help messages get to the brain quickly. These neurons were responsible for that first burst of pain in my big toe right when I stubbed it. Another type of nociceptor, called a C-fiber nociceptor, conducts signals much more slowly, but has many branches so that it reports to the brain from many different areas of the body. This type of nociceptor is associated with diffuse pain, and is likely to blame for that achey, burning feeling I have in the front of my foot right now.

Lets follow the stubbed toe message along its way to the brain. First, the message passes from my foot, up my leg, and into my spinal cord, where it is relayed to neurons whose fibers climb all the way to the brain. Up through the brainstem these fibers go, traveling in bundles to the brain itself where the message ping-pongs between the thalamus, hypothalamus, and a number of other regions scientists are just beginning to parse . The electrical communication between these regions gives rise to the feeling of pain.

Other Factors That Influence Pain Response

While it may seem simple, the process of detecting pain is complicated by the fact that it is not a one-way system. It isnt even a two-way system. Pain is more than just cause and effect. It is affected by everything else that is going on in the nervous system. Your mood, your past experiences, and your expectations can all change the way pain is interpreted at any given time. How is that for confusing?

If you step on that rock after you have a fight with your wife, your response may be very different than it would if you had just won the lottery. Your feelings about the experience may be tainted if the last time you stepped on a rock, your foot became infected. If you stepped on a rock once before and nothing terrible happened to you, you may recover more quickly. You can see how different emotions and histories can determine your response to pain. In fact, there is a strong link between depression and chronic pain.

Why Do I Have Pain

en español¿Por qué siento dolor?

Waking up with a sore throat that really hurts when you swallow. Jamming your finger at basketball practice. Playing a video game for so long that your wrist aches. These situations are different, but they have one thing in common: They all make you say “ouch!”

When your body is injured in some way or something else is wrong, your nerves send millions of messages to your about what’s going on. Your brain then makes you feel pain. So if you put your hand on a hot stove, your nerves call your brain, and your brain quickly sends the message that your hand hurts. You get this message and pull your hand away from the hot stove, which saves your hand from further injury.

People don’t come with warning lights, like the lights on a car dashboard that let the driver know when the car is low on oil or gas. We need the sensation of pain to let us know when our bodies need extra care. It’s an important signal.

When we sense pain, we pay attention to our bodies and can take steps to fix what hurts. Pain also may prevent us from injuring a body part even more. If it didn’t hurt to walk on a broken leg, a person might keep using it and cause more damage. If your throat is really sore, you’ll probably go to the doctor, who can treat the infection if you have one.

Here are some other questions a doctor might ask about pain:

The Role Of Nerves In Identifying Pain Sensations

Lets say you step on a rock. How does a sensory nerve in the peripheral nervous system know this is any different than something like a soft toy? Different sensory nerve fibers respond to different things and produce different chemical responses which determine how sensations are interpreted. Some nerves send signals associated with light touch, while others respond to deep pressure.

Special pain receptors called activate whenever there has been an injury, or even a potential injury, such as breaking the skin or causing a large indentation. Even if the rock does not break your skin, the tissues in your foot become compressed enough to cause the nociceptors to fire off a response. Now, an impulse is heading through the nerve into the spinal cord, and eventually all the way to your brain. This happens within fractions of a second.

What Types Of Opioid Receptors Exist

The human body has three kinds of opioid receptors:

  • Mu: Mu opioid receptors are linked to mood, pain and reward triggers. Opioids that activate the mu receptor can cause pain relief, mood changes, physical dependence and respiratory changes. Most opioid drugs function primarily as mu agonists, meaning that they activate the mu receptor.
  • Delta: The delta opioid receptor seems to have a connection to mood. Previous research shows that blocking the delta receptor causes anxiety and depression in mice. This could mean that the delta receptor has a role to play in regulating a persons mood.
  • Kappa: Some opioid drugs also activate the kappa opioid receptors. The kappa receptor seems to affect mood and reward responses. Opioids that activate the kappa receptor also have a history of causing pain relief, dysphoria and an increase in urination.

Most research we have on opioid receptors and opioid drugs relates to the mu receptor. Since many opioid medications activate the mu receptor, researchers want to understand their connection.

Plasticity Is Both The Problem And Answer

In his book, Doidge tells the story of Michael Moskowitz M.D., a psychiatrist, who became a pain specialist because he wanted to alleviate his own chronic pain resulting from a falling accident. After pouring over thousands of pages of neuroscience research, Moskowitz came up with a plan to reverse his pain.

Because of plasticity, there is always a battle in your brain for cortical real estate. You have a use or lose it brain meaning that activities performed regularly take up more space in the brain and steal resources from other areas, a concept known as competitive plasticity. Moskowitz noticed that the areas of the brain that actively process chronic pain also process thoughts, sensations, images, memories, movements, emotions and beliefs when they arent being hijacked by pain.

Moskowitz decided that when he was in pain, he would take these areas of his brain back and force them to work on other activities rather than processing the pain signals.  When he felt an attack of pain, he immediately  the areas in his brain processing pain shrinking until it looked like a pain-free brain.  Doidge quotes Maskowitz and writes:

I had to be relentless even more relentless than the pain signal itself, he said. He greeted every twinge of pain with an image of his pain map shrinking, knowing that he was forcing his posterior cingulate and posterior parietal lobes to process a visual image.

Cbd And Pain Receptors

Cannabidiol is a compound from the cannabis plant that has a range of therapeutic applications. One of those is pain relief.

Studies have found that CBD may affect pain perception in multiple ways. 

CBD may be able to from reaching the brain. This can reduce the intensity of pain that you feel. 

It may also reduce the inflammatory response. Inflammation can cause chronic, phase 3 pain. CBD may prevent that pain from occurring before it even starts due to its powerful antioxidant properties. It may also block pro-inflammatory elements in the body, such as cytokines and T cells, to prevent inflammation before it starts. 

This is one reason that CBD is popular with patients suffering from painful inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and migraine. 

Additionally, CBD has been found to increase levels of adenosine in the brain, which is a natural pain reliever produced by our bodies. 

Getting To Know Your Pain Receptors: What They Are And How They Work

Does the death of an individual cell not caused by natural ...

Pain receptors are nerve endings located all over your body. Theyre found on your skin, muscles, internal organs, and more.  

Their job is to detect any damage done to your body and to report it to your brain by sending a message. This message is what we call pain.

Pain receptors are essential to our survival. Without pain, we wouldnt know how to avoid dangerous situations. But uncontrolled pain can also make our lives miserable. 

Learning how your pain receptors work will help you understand what kind of pain youre suffering from, whether its serious, and how to manage it. 

Well explain everything you need to know about your pain receptors and how to manage your pain response.  

How Does Information From Sensory Receptors Get To The Brain


Sensory neurons receive impulses and carry them from the sense organs to the spinal cord or brain. Interneurons connect sensory and motor neurons and interpret the impulse. Motor neurons carry impulses from the brain and spinal cord to muscles or glands.

Secondly, does the brain have sensory receptors? Answer: There are no pain receptors in the brain itself. But he meninges , periosteum , and the scalp all have pain receptors. Your spinal cord is a complex array of nerves, transmitting all kinds of signals to and from the brain at any given time.

Also know, what do our brains do with the information from the sensory receptors?

Each receptor is responsible for picking up sensory information and passing this information to our brain for processing which involves organising, prioritising, understanding and responding to the information.

Where is sensory information processed in the brain?

The parietal lobe is located in the middle section of the brain and is associated with processing tactile sensory information such as pressure, touch, and pain. A portion of the brain known as the somatosensory cortex is located in this lobe and is essential to the processing of the body’s senses.

Pain Is In Your Brain

February 8, 2015

The word pain has its roots in the Latin word meaning punishment. Fitting, right?

But pain isnt just your bodys way of playing some sadistic trick on you. Pain is actually an injured bodys reward and penalty system telling the person not to do something that might cause further damage and rewarding them with relief when they comply. At the most basic level, pain is simply your body sending some electrical signals which your brain interprets as pain.

The Good The Bad And The Strange Of Physical Pain

Nerve growth factor, a key part of the pain response, bound to a receptor.

Most people struggle with pain at some point in their life, and when it gets bad enough it can be a debilitating condition. However, while pain has its obvious and sometimes devastating downside, our ability to feel physical pain is also part of maintaining our health. For a time, physicians even referred to pain as the fifth vital sign, because it can be important to understanding the state of a persons health and point to the presence of disease. When our pain receptors are working effectively, pain is a useful way for our bodies to tell our brains when a stimulus is a threat to our overall well-being. 

However, sometimes pain stops playing a protective role. Chronic pain can occur when a medical professional  is unable to effectively treat the underlying condition causing the pain, but it can also happen when there isnt an underlying disease at all. At that point, pain ceases to be an effective indicator that something is wrong with the body and becomes a disease unto itself. 

The Biology of Pain

Understanding how pain can go from a useful, if unwelcome, stimulus to a serious malady requires understanding the biology behind pain. And that biology begins with the distinction between the central and peripheral nervous systems.

How Nociceptors Work 

Its About More Than Just Nerves


What The Nervous System Does

Your nervous system is made up of two main parts: the brain and the spinal cord, which combine to form the central nervous system; and the sensory and motor nerves, which form the peripheral nervous system. The names make it easy to picture: the brain and spinal cord are the hubs, while the sensory and motor nerves stretch out to provide access to all areas of the body.

Put simply, sensory nerves send impulses about what is happening in our environment to the brain via the spinal cord. The brain sends information back to the motor nerves, which help us perform actions. Its like having a very complicated inbox and outbox for everything.

When Acute Pain Becomes Chronic

In this scenario, after your foot healed, the pain sensations would stop. This is because the nociceptors no longer detect any tissue damage or potential injury. This is called acute pain. Acute pain does not persist after the initial injury has healed.

Sometimes, however, pain receptors continue to fire. This can be caused by a disease or condition that continuously causes damage. With , for example, the joint is in a constant state of disrepair, causing pain signals to travel to the brain with little downtime. Sometimes, even in the absence of tissue damage, nociceptors continue to fire. There may no longer be a physical cause of pain, but the pain response is the same. This makes chronic pain difficult to pin down and even more difficult to treat.

The Role Of The Brain In Interpreting Pain

Even though the spinal reflex takes place at the dorsal horn, the pain signal continues to the brain. This is because pain involves more than a simple stimulus and response. Simply taking your foot off the rock does not solve all of your problems. No matter how mild the damage, the tissues in your foot still need to be healed. In addition, your brain needs to make sense of what has happened. Pain gets cataloged in your brains library, and emotions become associated with stepping on that rock.

When the pain signal reaches the brain it goes to the thalamus, which directs it to a few different areas for interpretations. A few areas in the cortex figure out where the pain came from and compare it to other kinds of pain with which is it familiar. Was it sharp? Did it hurt more than stepping on a tack? Have you ever stepped on a rock before, and if so was it better or worse?

Signals are also sent from the thalamus to the limbic system, which is the emotional center of the brain. Ever wonder why some pain makes you cry? The limbic system decides. Feelings are associated with every sensation you encounter, and each feeling generates a response. Your heart rate may increase, and you may break out into a sweat. All because of a rock underfoot.

More Than Just A Sensory Experience

In a fundamental sense, Hannibal Lecter was wrong about the brain feeling no pain. Although the brain has no nociceptors, the brain feels all our pain. This is because our brain is the organ through which we interpret, evaluate and experience all the sensory signals from our body.

Scientists distinguish between nociception the nervous signal of damage to our body and pain, the unpleasant emotional and cognitive experience that normally results when our nociceptors are activated.

This means that pain is more than just a sensory experience, it is influenced by our thoughts, feelings and social relationships. For example, how we experience pain is affected by our thoughts, such as what we believe the pain might mean, and what we remember of previous painful experiences.

Pain is also an emotional experience: people with depression report that they experience more pain in daily life. And inducing a low mood in otherwise normal people increases pain ratings and lowers tolerance to pain.

It is also a social experience. In one experiment, students who were asked to hold their hand in painfully cold water for as long as possible tolerated the pain for longer if they thought the experimenter was one of their professors than if they thought the experimenter was a fellow student. This shows that who asks us about our pain is important.

University of Bath are looking for volunteers to take part in research investigating body perception in chronic pain.

How Does Heroin Affect The Brain & Neurotransmitters

What science can tell us about

Once the brain encounters these synthetic though, it is less likely to produce its own. The more a person takes heroin, the less natural opioid the brain will produce. This affects the opioid receptors, and the risk/reward system in the brain, which is the primary pathway that uses dopamine. The brain also decreases how much dopamine, serotonin, and other neurotransmitters it produces because these are released artificially due to heroin use.

If a person is unable to take heroin when their brain needs the drug, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. Most of these symptoms feel like an intense flu, complete with aches, chills, depression, exhaustion, and nausea; very strong cravings for the drug also often occur.

Types Of Pain Receptors

There are multiple types of pain receptors. This is why certain types of pain feel different than others. For example, the pain from a cut is different from that of a burn. 

The type of pain receptor that gets triggered can also affect how you treat your pain. 

These are the types of pain receptors you should know:

  • Mechanical: Mechanical pain receptors are triggered by physical damage to the body, such as a blow or abrasion. So, these pain receptors would be triggered if you stubbed your toe or cut your finger.  
  • Thermal: Thermal pain receptors send a response to your brain if your body gets too hot or cold. This pain comes in the form of a burning or tingling sensation. 
  • Chemical: Chemical pain receptors respond to chemicals that damage your body, such as acid. The most common type of chemical pain is from eating spicy food made with hot chilies. 
  • Polymodal: Polymodal pain receptors respond to multiple categories of stimuli. Some respond to thermal and mechanical damage, and others respond to all three types of damage above. 
  • Silent: Silent pain receptors only send pain signals to the brain if youve already been hurt. For example, if someone touches a bruise on your arm, youll feel pain from a silent receptor. If you dont have a bruise, that same touch would not elicit a pain signal. 

From Sensing To Feeling

So whats happening when it feels like your brain is hurting? Youre absolutely right that the brain has no nociceptors. In fact, nociceptors never develop in the brain; in embryos, the cells that are responsible for making nociceptors are different from the ones that make up the brain . The brain is so insensitive to painful stimuli that neurosurgeons do not apply anaesthesia to the brain tissue they operate upon, allowing patients to be awake and completely responsive for the whole procedure. You can see this phenomenon for yourself in the video linked here. So if a brain is incapable of sending this feels bad! signals, why do headaches exist?


Although nociceptors embedded in your sinuses are in the front of your face, the brain can still interpret sinus pain as coming from the middle of your head. Source:


One answer is that the brain mistakenly identifies pain as coming from the middle of your head. Your brain can be bad at localizing certain types of head pain because there are so many different types of tissues in the head, and many of them are pretty bad at communicating where the hurt is happening. Fellow sinus infection sufferers will know what Im talking about – inflammation of the spaces in just behind your forehead can feel like a knot of pain in the middle of your head.


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How We Feel Pain

Pain is a complex physiological process. A pain message is transmitted to the brain by specialized nerve cells known as nociceptors, or pain receptors . When pain receptors are stimulated by temperature, pressure or chemicals, they release neurotransmitters within the cells. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in the nervous system that facilitate communication between nerve cells.

As seen in the diagram, these messengers transmit a pain signal from the pain receptor to the spinal cord, and then to the thalamus, a region of the brain. The thalamus then transmits the pain signal to other areas of the brain to be processed.

Once the brain has received and interpreted the pain message, it coordinates an appropriate response. The brain can send a signal back to the spinal cord and nerves to increase or decrease the severity of pain. For example, the brain can signal the release of natural painkillers known as endorphins. Alternately, the brain can direct the release of neurotransmitters that enhance pain or hormones that stimulate the immune system to respond to an injury. Recent research has shown that people possess differing amounts of these neurotransmitters, possibly explaining why some people experience pain more intensely than others. Furthermore, recent studies have found that genetic makeup can influence an individuals sensitivity to pain.

Types of Pain

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