On this page, I will explain what pain is, what it means and how it is triggered.
If you want to find an overview of the different types of pain presented on this site, click on Overview in the navigation bar to your left.
Pain is a complex, uncomfortable and subjective experience, which is always made up of emotional and often sensory components.
It can occur because of potential tissue damage – hand over the hob – or actual tissue damage – burnt hand – or even be triggered by just such physical threats. This is often the case with chronic pain.
The actual or potential tissue damage, as mentioned above, triggers the sensory component of pain. Here we speak of nociception which, could be translated as “meaningfulness or significance of pain”.
Nociception is nothing other than the transmission of “danger signals” to the brain, usually triggered in the body due to some thermal, chemical or mechanical changes.
Pain is always real and always subjective!
When you see your doctor for a broken leg, you do not do it because it represents a danger to your body or because you know that your bones could completely break under additional stress, but because it hurts.
Let me point out that when processing these stimuli, our brain detects the sense, i.e. the risk of real or potential pain, while our mind, which is responsible for the emotional component, evaluates the level of pain.
The latter of course implies that the psychological and emotional make up of the individual have a profound influence on the “overall sensation of pain” and that pain is clearly subjective.
Finally, I again want to emphasize that nociception – often triggered by an injury or a sensory experience, is frequently involved in pain and can be the cause, but this is NOT absolutely necessary for it. For more information about this, see the chapter on the onset of pain.
Pain can also occur or persist in the absence of any injury or other condition; most of the time, such pain is purely psychological.