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Pain is a protective mechanism, it’s an alarm system that has evolved within our system to try and protect us from damaging or harmful stimuli or situations. It is designed to protect our body's tissues. 

Pain is a vital part of survival, without it we wouldn’t know if we had injured ourselves or when we were at risk of threat or harm.

In fact, there is a rare condition called 'congenital insensitivity to pain' (CIPA) and individuals that suffer from this condition have a significantly reduced life expectancy.

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  • We all have nociceptors on our skin. Some nociceptors work very quickly and are responsible for sharp, burning sensations and others work more slowly and are associated with more achy, throbbing type sensations.


  • These nerves will identify thermal, mechanical and chemical changes in the environment.

  • Once a change in your surroundings has been identified, a signal from your skin will travel to the spinal cord, and then to the brain.


  • It is at this point when the complex, clever stuff occurs.


  • Before sending a signal back to the spinal cord and off to the skin, the brain has to make a decision about whether the situation you are in is threatening or harmful or not.


  • Lots of messages, discussion and communication occurs between neurons, synapses and pathways in your brain, exceptionally quickly.


  • These pathways are asking questions such as: has this happened before?, what was the outcome?, what is the level of threat?, what have I been told about this situation?, what have I heard or read?

  • Once all of these questions have been answered, the brain makes a decision about how threatening the situation is and then sends a signal to the spinal cord which then sends a signal back to the muscle or skin and a reaction occurs.


  • If the brain has decided that the level of threat is very low or minimal, then no pain response will be produced and you will go about your day as normal.


  • However, if your brain has decided that the level of threat is high, a pain response will be produced and you will react accordingly to keep yourself safe and protected. 


  • Consequently, the pain you experience is always an output of the brain. This does not mean that it is 'all in your head', the pain experience is always very real. It just means the pain you experience is controlled by your brain and your nervous system.


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