Understanding how your body feels pain may help you to appreciate how it comes about.
Pain basically results from a series of electrical and chemical exchanges which involves three major components, your peripheral nerves, your spinal cord and your brain.
After pain starts messages move through nerves up the spinal cord. Then the brain intercepts the messages as pain, including where it is, intensity and nature. For instance, burning, aching or stinging.
The speed by which the messages travel can vary. A dull, aching pain, like from an upset stomach or an earache is relayed on fibres that travel at a slow speed. Whereas the feeling of severe pain is transmitted almost immediately.
When pain message reach your spinal cord, they meet up with nerve cells that act as ‘gatekeepers’, allowing or refusing the messages to pass through to your brain.
The ‘gatekeepers’ open the gate wide to your message of severe pain, for instance if you touched a red hot pan. You also have nerve cells in your spinal cord which may also release chemicals that increase or subdue the messages, which can then affect the speed at which they travel to your brain.
All in all a very clever system is set up to enable us to deal with so many different types of pain.