(The following is the transcript for the video above)

In the introduction video I mentioned that pain that you're experiencing does NOT have to equate to physical injuries or deformities. But often it DOES as well. The thing is, that there are different TYPES of pain and identifying which one or ones you're most likely to be experiencing, is absolutely crucial to the management of your pain.

According to Prof Clifford Woolf of Harvard Medical School, there are four types of pain (1,2): Nociceptive, Inflammatory, Neuropathic and Dysfunctional. These are NOT mutually exclusive groups, but can and often occur simultaneously, and all equally important. Let's look at Nociceptive pain for this video.

There are different types of nerves in our body, responsible for different sensations. For example, there is one for pressure and stretch, called mechanoreceptors, one for temperature called thermoreceptors, and one for pain, called nociceptors. Actually in fact, nociceptors are often thermoreceptors as well.

Nociceptive pain is when these nociceptors are stimulated, and activated. Here is my finger. If I bend it, the mechanoreceptors around the joint tells my brain that my finger is being stretched. But it's not painful, yet. If I stretch it more, then the stimulation is large enough to break the threshold of activation of the nociceptors.

So when the nociceptors get stimulated, just like all nerves, they generate electrical signal called Action Potential that gets relayed into the spinal cord, and into the brain. You still will NOT feel any pain however. You'll only feel pain, when your brain, consciously or unconsciously, decides that the signal is important enough for it to be noticed.

This kind of pain, or Nociceptive pain, is the "typical" pain most of us know and understand. Like a joint sprain, a smack on your shoulder, or sudden change in temperature. This sort of pain is important, because it is a warning of a potential threat to our body (3), and absolutely vital for our survival.

References

1. Vardeh D, Mannion RJ, Woolf CJ. Toward a Mechanism-Based Approach to Pain Diagnosis. J Pain. 2016;17(9 Suppl):T50-69.

2. Woolf CJ. Pain: Moving from Symptom Control toward Mechanism-Specific Pharmacologic Management. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2004;140:441-51.

3. Melzack R, Katz J. Pain. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Cogn Sci. 2013;4(1):1-15.