12 paradoxes of pain
Sharp, dull, sudden, chronic, aching, pulsating, blinding ... This is not a complete list of epithets that we, without hesitation, apply, talking about the sensation that we all have experienced and continue to experience: pain.
We know how the signaling system works through neurons to the brain and back, but many questions still remain unanswered.
All our knowledge of pain is built on paradoxes.
1. Our brain captures the signals of pain, but does not feel it
The brain captures and processes pain signals from all other parts of the body, but does not feel the pain itself.
Suppose you tucked your ankle, or burned a finger. Nerve fibers immediately send a signal to your brain, which decodes the sensation you experience, like pain.
No wonder modern surgery was possible only after the discovery of anesthesia. However, if the brain itself turns out to be the object of the operation, then it doesn’t need painkillers. The nerve cells of the brain send the same signals to themselves as with a broken limb, only the data processing center for them is missing. The brain, accustomed to be responsible for the entire body, does not understand at all when it should be his own pain.
There is something creepy in this, but patients are often fully conscious during brain operations, which allows surgeons to see if they are too deep into the main processor of our body.
2. We all feel pain differently.
The pain is subjective: for someone agony, but for someone a slight inconvenience.
The fact that, after, let's say, natural childbirth, one woman says that it was a bit uncomfortable, but it's okay, and the other at the very beginning of contractions requires anesthesia, does not mean that one of them is stoic, and the other is a weak looseness.
How we feel pain is influenced by many factors: what chemical reactions occur in your brain at this time, whether there is an inflammatory process somewhere in your body, and also how much you “remember” the pain you experienced before.
As Kenneth Hansraj, head of the New York Center for Spinal Surgery, once said: “Someone can drill their tibia without anesthesia, and he will calmly tell you, they say, buddy, pull out this thing! And the other will not take out even touching the skin needles. "
3. Pain can be distracted
The pain can be deceived: if you start shaking your hurt finger, it becomes easier.
Our brain, of course, is the most complex computer ever created by nature, but at the same time it is a bit dull.
The fact is that it is difficult for him to simultaneously analyze several sensations. Suppose you are bitten by a mosquito and the bite is itching desperately. Attach an ice cube to it, and suddenly you will realize that you still feel cold, but the itch is gone. That is why we instinctively rub a bruised place or frantically shake a finger that accidentally pinched the door.
4. Ginger is worse
Ginger has a hard time: fiery hair color is accompanied by a non-standard attitude to painkillers.
This is hard to believe, but in 2009 an article appeared in the journal of the American Dental Association, according to which redheads very much dislike visiting dentists.
The fact is that the same genetic combination that rewards them with fiery hair color makes them less susceptible to some painkillers. And sometimes they need a dose that is twice the amount that would be enough for some brunette. It is also possible that their body reacts to anesthesia in a not entirely trivial way.Some doctors, by the way, make corrections to the patient's hair color.
5. Sex saves from pain
Having sex can reduce the pain of a migraine ... if you, of course, have the strength to do it.
Well, objectively speaking, if you had a migraine attack, then sex in such a situation seems to be somewhat doubtful. However, there are some statistics, according to which 60% of migraine sufferers felt much better if they did it during an attack.
Sexual arousal produces endorphins in the brain, which are natural painkillers. By the way, with patients with migraine is not so simple. There is a suspicion that the same gene variation, which awards sufferers with migraine, at the same time significantly increases their libido.
6. We are mercilessly divided into women and men.
We all all feel the same, only men think that we must endure
In fact, there is no scientific evidence that men and women feel pain differently. Although doctors say that, in general, women are more likely to admit that they are in pain. Perhaps this is due to the social stereotype, which requires from "real" men to endure, gritting his teeth.
7. Those who do not feel pain
Those who do not feel pain are not so good: simply touching a hot stove can turn into a third-degree burn.
This is a very rare genetic anomaly. So rare that in the entire history of medicine, she met only a few dozen times. Those who are not very lucky to be born with it can, for example, feel whether an object is hot or cold, but they do not feel pain. And this, by the way, is very bad. For example, a random touch to a hot stove can end with a third degree burn, instead of a small blister, which would have arisen if they quickly realized what it was about and pulled back.
According to the available statistics (which, for obvious reasons, is extremely small), the average life expectancy of such insensitive ones is well below the average.
8. The most common pain
The most common pain in developed countries is lower back pain.
This is a pain in the back. Approximately 27% of people in developed countries claim to suffer from lower back pain. Whereas from constant headaches, or migraines - only 15%. Experts advise not to disdain exercise and not to gain excess weight. However, this is a consequence of our evolutionary success.Bipedal does not contribute to the health of the spine. Four-legged, in which the weight is distributed much more evenly, back pain is not threatened.
9. What hurt kings and dinosaurs
Both kings and dinosaurs suffered from gout. There is a dragon here, but probably he is a close relative of the Tyrannosaurus
Gout, also known as arthritis, was formerly called the disease of kings, since it was allegedly the result of excessive consumption of fatty foods and alcohol. It is clear that in the distant Middle Ages only very wealthy people could afford it. Now we know that the pain of gout arises from the formation inside the joints of acute uric acid crystals.
A study of the skeleton of the upper limb of a female Tyrannosaurus Rex (which paleontologists called Sue) showed that this particular predator of the Jurassic period also suffered from gout, and in a very neglected form. It is likely that during the last years of her life, Sue suffered from chronic pain.
10. The nature of pain is not straightforward.
Sometimes the pain of a symptom turns into a disease. It hurts everywhere, and why - it is not clear
Pain is a symptom, which, however, gives only a general idea that something is wrong, but does not give any specifics.And in patients suffering from central pain, the pain itself becomes a disease, not a symptom of it.
Such patients complain of pain throughout the body, and sensations range from needles to strong pressure. In this case, the brain is not just a recorder and processor of pain, but also their main generator.
11. Don't underestimate your brain.
Do not underestimate your brain: it knows what buttons and under what circumstances should be pressed
The brain is arranged in such a way that it constantly evaluates the signals coming into it, deciding how serious the danger is and whether immediate measures should be taken. Having received an alarm signal, the brain immediately tries to answer the main question: "And how dangerous is all this really?"
In assessing the situation, our central processor uses all the information available to it: from the subjective, coming from our past experience, to the objective, obtained from the whole complex of physical and chemical parameters of the body.
The brain commands the neurons as it wants, and so it is necessary to obey
And when he receives a signal, he sends "instructions" to nerve endings on how to behave.Canadian physician Paul Ingram described the process in progress in the following imaginary dialogue:
Nerves: Problem! Problem! Huge! Big! Red alarm! Turn on now!
Brain:Mmmm, yes? Well, taken into account. But here, guys, I have a database here, sorry, it is strictly secret, so take my word for it: it's not so scary. Relax.
Nerves: No, no, listen, this is all very serious!
Brain:Nah, I do not believe.
Nerves: Listen, maybe, of course, we don’t have access to this “information” that you constantly talk about, but we know perfectly well what tissue damage is! And here we are not playing toys. We will not shut up until you take action!
Brain (hypnotist voice):You do not remember what it is. Absolutely no reason to send me signals. Everything is absolutely fine, breathe deeply ...
Nerves: Oh yes ... What are we talking about? Hell, they just seemed to want to report something important ... Well, okay, we'll be back later.
12. The most important boss
The brain itself decides how to regulate the pain button in our body, and why it sometimes stops at six, and sometimes at ten, we still do not fully know
The brain can really twirl peripheral nerve endings, as he pleases. If he doesn’t like something, he can request more information. And maybe order their subordinates not to fuss. In recent years, a lot of information has appeared, according to which nerves in the periphery can actually change both physically and chemically, possibly following the command coming from the brain.
As Paul Ingram pointed out: “The brain not only can turn the button that controls the sound, but can easily change all the equipment, changing the signal itself long before it enters the speakers.”
The final nature of pain, despite the fact that it is an integral part of the existence of all living beings, is still not known to us.