We all think we know what pain is, but the truth of the matter is that we actually don’t. While we can feel physical and emotional pain, scientists don’t really know how to explain it. Pain isn’t just something that hurts and it’s more than just electrical impulses sent through our nerves. Here’re five lesser-known facts about pain.
1. Your brain can’t feel pain
Considering that your brain is the headquarters of nerve control, it’s hard to believe that your brain can’t actually feel pain. This is because it doesn’t have any pain-sensitive nerves – unlike the rest of your body. Interestingly enough, your elbows contain fewer pain nerves, meaning it won’t hurt so much if you pinch it. Go on, try it!
2. There’s a rare condition that prevents people feeling pain
Ever wanted to stop feeling pain? Well, a few people in the world don’t feel pain at all, and it’s not a good thing either. It’s called congenital insensitivity to pain (CIPA) and it’s incredibly rare. This disease, as its name suggests, is present at birth and prevents people from sensing all forms of pain, meaning that the sufferer will never know if they’ve broken a bone, burned their arm or cut their leg.
3. How do painkillers work?
Whenever we feel pain, we reach for some paracetamol or ibuprofen to help numb the pain – but, how does it work? When you are injured, the nerves around the injury send signals to the brain, telling it that you’ve hurt yourself. A painkiller interrupts the signalling process. It can do this either by stopping the pain at the source, at the spinal cord or in the brain, itself.
4. Mind over matter
Some people believe that if you put your mind to it, you can overcome any obstacle. While this is true for many situations you may find yourself in, it’s not so easy when it comes to your health. However, there is something called the placebo effect – this proves that the mind is stronger than we think. It’s also said that people who dwell on pain tend to struggle with it than more those who don’t.
5. Types of painkillers
There’s isn’t just one kind of painkiller on the market, in fact, there are three:
- Opioids – these drugs are very potent and are made from the milk of the opium poppy. The most common opioids include morphine, Methadone and oxycodone.
- Non-Opioid Drugs – these are the more common OTC drugs such as paracetamol and ibuprofen.
- Other – these drugs either work on their own to remove the cause of the pain (like removing swelling to prevent pain) or in conjuncture with another painkiller. These include steroids, antidepressants and anticonvulsants.