Pain: How does the body control pain? ( Part 2 )

From: Helen Dynda (
Mon Apr 24 14:33:08 2000


Pain signals are sent through a complex system of nerves in your brain and spinal cord. Your body tries to stop these signals from reaching their destination by creating chemicals that help block pain signals. These chemicals, called endorphins (en-DOOR-fins), are morphine-like painkilling substances that decrease the pain sensation.

The body produces endorphins in response to different kinds of "controls."

1. These include "natural" controls, such as your own thoughts and emotions. For example: imagine that a father who is driving with his children is hurt in a car accident. The father is so worried about his children that he doesn't feel the pain from his own broken arm. The concern for his children has blocked the pain signal and kept the pain from affecting him.

2.) The body also produces endorphins in response to "outside" controls, such as medicine. Morphine is one example of a powerful pain-blocking medicine. Other outside pain control methods -- such as exercise, relaxation, massage, and heat and cold treatment -- can stimulate the body to either release endorphins or block pain signals in other ways.

******[ CONTINUED in PART 3 ]******

The 15th century proverb which summarizes the purpose of medicine is:

* To cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always. *

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