The Pain Story

Planted throughout our bodies are pain receptors waiting to be stimulated by the experience of tissue damage from burning, penetrating, tearing, crushing, fracturing, poisoning or freezing. Almost all of our tissues have a rich variety of these sense receptors, which are actually specialized nerve endings. They are all connected to nerves that run to the central nervous system, to pass on the information of injury. In this way we can avoid further injury through stopping use of an injured body part. Pain also causes us to withdraw reflexively from painful stimuli preventing extension of the damage. So rather than tormenting us, these pain receptors in our tissues literally save our lives and secure our well being. What happens when it all goes wrong, though? Why does pain come and stay? Why does pain remain severe or even worsen after the body has healed itself? Why, given similar injuries and treatments, do some people improve and others become worse? It is in answering these questions and others that the story of pain emerges.