Pain is the alarm signal of our body, which is supposed to alert us to dangers and tell us that something is wrong. However, before we feel pain in order to be able to react to it, various processes must take place in the body. The pain begins somewhere on the body, for example on the finger when we prick ourselves on a needle.
On the finger, the injury causes the release of various substances from the injured cells and leads to the irritation of a nerve path towards the brain. However, the nerve tract does not lead directly to the brain, but only to the spinal cord. There it is switched to another pathway, which finally leads to the brain.
In the brain, the nerve tracts from the spinal cord end in special areas which then trigger the perception and feeling of “pain” in us. Pain, however, is not equal to pain and so a person can feel pain as stabbing, dull, throbbing, knocking, bright, or even as pulling. The type of pain can often be an indication of its cause.
Pain can also lose its warning function and occur without reason or even disproportionately strong without the body having suffered a serious injury. If the pain lasts longer than six months without a cause, it is called chronic pain. This is to be treated differently from acute pain and often takes a protracted course and often requires treatment by a trained pain doctor.
If the first trigger was an actual injury that has healed but after which the pain has remained, the brain has developed a so-called “pain memory” and feels the injury as still present. The actual protective function changes here into a physically and mentally very stressful state and becomes an illness. In addition to the pain described above, which is a warning signal to be picked up, there are other types of pain, such as nerve pain, when the nerve tract that is supposed to conduct the pain is itself injured and thus sends a continuous signal to the brain. Depending on where the pain originates, medicine distinguishes between superficial pain and pain in our internal organs, which we feel, for example, when we have abdominal pain.