Perception of Pain

You’ve probably had your share of physical injuries whether it’s work or sports related. You’ve probably even had your boss, coach, coworkers or teammates try motivating you by saying the pain is all in your head. Sound familiar? As much as pain can stem from an injury, it is very true that the pain is felt in the head.

Take dental removals for example. With the advancement of medical techniques, people can go through dental removal without feeling pain during the time. How does that work? In this procedure, requires cutting the skin, pulling the teeth out and sewing up the gums. Wouldn’t you think it would cause at least a little bit of pain?

Our body has nerves that specializes in sensing pain. These can start almost anywhere in the body, from the skin, muscle, ligaments, internal organs, you name it. These nerves travel first to the spinal cord, then up towards the head and finally enters the brain. The brain is the organ that registers the sensation as a painful one.

If anything happens to the nerve anywhere in this pathway, it would be affect the way the brain interprets pain. Going back to the dental removal example, the dentist probably injected some type of drug into your gums before digging your tooth out. What this drug does is block the pain sensing nerves around the gums. Thus, the pain sensing nerves will not be able to send signals to the spinal cord, which no signal will be sent towards the brain, and no interpretation of pain will be done by the brain.

Pain sensation can also be reduced or enhanced simply from the different inputs to the brain. As explained, the brain is the organ that recognizes pain. Adrenaline is one of the things that blocks off pain sensations, so if you are playing footy extremely hard, there is a chance on an injury until the quarter has ended without noticing any pain. So your coach and teammates aren’t actually wrong, pain be reduced depending on how hard and how motivated you are playing the game.

On the flip side, if you are extremely stress, this can amplify the sensation of pain. Although the exact mechanism is not well understood, there is general consensus that emotional stress amplifies pain. That’s way when trying to recover from injury, it is important treat the pain holistically. At capital physiotherapy, we have experienced physiotherapist that understand the importance of a holistic approach to pain. If you’ve got some lingering pain that just isn’t going away, make an appointment with us by sending email at or visit our clinics at South Yarra, Balwyn and Footscray and we’ll customize a holistic program for you to get back to your favourite activities.