We all know what pain is - it’s something that hurts in our body!! But the current research about pain, as of early 2018, strongly suggests that pain is generated in the brain - here’s a basic overview of how it works: in our bodies, nociceptors (the sensory receptors that detect chemical, mechanical and thermal changes) send a signal to the brain when they detect something. The brain, being the super computer that it is, considers the vast multitude of other stimuli at that moment and then determines whether to send a signal back to the tissue that would make us feel pain. But sometimes other stimuli take preference - like the classic example of a soldier on the battlefield who has major wounds but doesn’t feel them because the brain has to prioritize being in survival mode. A more down to earth example of how the brain prioritizes pain is when we’re with a patient and find tight tissue but the patient says it doesn’t hurt.
Another interesting pain research topic is called Long Term Potentiation. This proposes that when the brain sends repeated pain signals to the same tissues, that particular sensory pathway gets reinforced and pain is more likely to be felt. And to make it worse, it takes less stimuli to create the pain.
So, what can we make of all this? As practitioners, we can realize that different people have different sensations of pain that we may not expect. As individuals, it’s another piece of information we can use to know more about ourselves in our own path of healing!