Taster: A short journey on Pain

12th Mar 2020

To celebrate Brain Awareness Week (BAW), 16-22 March 2020, we’re highlighting British Neuroscience Association’s (BNA) current 'Year of Pain', with a short journey through ‘Pain’: an informative and fun mix of facts, research and quotations.

Here's a taster of the journey before Brain Awareness Week officially starts.

“We still don’t know exactly how the brain constructs this experience that you absolutely, unarguably know hurts.” Irene Tracey[1]

TOP 3 Facts about pain


Pain is a necessary function, warning the body of potential or actual injury. It normally occurs when a nociceptive nerve terminal detects a damaging stimulus on the skin or in an internal organ. One of the ways in which pain signals are regulated within the nervous system is by the release of tiny quantities of neurotransmitter chemicals. Over one hundred types have been discovered.


But pain is not always directly related to injury. Widespread body pain such as fibromyalgia and migraine are common causes of pain where the mechanisms are still far from clear. This disconnect between injury and pain makes pain research especially interesting and challenging.


Pain is generally described as either acute or chronic. Acute pain commonly results from actual injury and damage to tissues and resolves when the injury is healed e.g a sprained ankle.  Chronic pain lasts for months and years, becoming increasingly disconnected from injury, such as in arthritis. 

“The merest schoolgirl, when she falls in love, has Shakespeare or Keats to speak her mind for her; but let a sufferer try to describe a pain in his head to a doctor and language at once runs dry.”  Virginia Woolf

Check back in next week for the full story, with more interesting facts, answers to questions such as 'Why is pain not the same for everyone?' and events you can attend to delve more into the mysteries and discoveries in pain.

[1] https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/07/02/the-neuroscience-of-pain

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