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How do we feel pain?

Most of the pain that we experience is caused by actual or threatened damage to the tissues in our bodies, such as muscle and bone.

Any damage, or threat of damage, is detected by a network of sensing nerves that exists throughout most of the tissues and organs in our bodies, which are activated by factors that could cause damage (e.g. heat and pressure) and by chemicals released when tissue is actually damaged.

Once activated, the sensing nerves carry messages about the damage to the spinal cord, which is located inside your backbone. The sensing nerves from your tissues activate nerves inside your spinal cord, which then carry the messages up to the brain. In specialised areas in your brain, the messages are interpreted as pain coming from the area affected by the damage.

Date of preparation: August 2017; MINT/MPAIN-17005c