In 1995, the British Medical Journal published an astonishing report
about a 29-year-old builder. He accidentally jumped
onto a 15-centimeter nail, which pierced straight through
his steel-toed boot. He was in such agonizing pain that even
the smallest movement was unbearable. But when the doctors took off his boot,
they faced a surprising sight: the nail had never touched
his foot at all. For hundreds of years, scientists thought that pain was
a direct response to damage. By that logic, the more severe an injury
is, the more pain it should cause. But as we’ve learned more about
the science of pain, we’ve discovered that pain and tissue
damage don’t always go hand in hand, even when the body’s threat signaling
mechanisms are fully functioning. We’re capable of experiencing severe pain
out of proportion to an actual injury, and even pain without any injury, like the builder, or the well-documented
cases of male partners of pregnant women experiencing pain
during the pregnancy or labor. What’s going on here? There are actually two phenomena at play: the experience of pain, and a biological
process called nociception. Nociception is part of the nervous
system’s protective response to harmful or potentially harmful stimuli. Sensors in specialized nerve endings detect mechanical, thermal,
and chemical threats. If enough sensors are activated, electrical signals shoot up the nerve
to the spine and on to the brain. The brain weighs the importance
of these signals and produces pain if it decides
the body needs protection. Typically, pain helps the body
avoid further injury or damage. But there are a whole set of factors
besides nociception that can influence the experience of pain—
and make pain less useful. First, there are biological factors that
amplify nociceptive signals to the brain. If nerve fibers are activated repeatedly, the brain may decide they need
to be more sensitive to adequately protect the body
from threats. More stress sensors can be
added to nerve fibers until they become so sensitive that
even light touches to the skin spark intense electrical signals. In other cases, nerves adapt to send signals more
efficiently, amplifying the message. These forms of amplification are most common in people experiencing
chronic pain, which is defined as pain lasting
more than 3 months. When the nervous system is nudged
into an ongoing state of high alert, pain can outlast physical injury. This creates a vicious cycle in which
the longer pain persists, the more difficult it becomes to reverse. Psychological factors clearly
play a role in pain too, potentially by influencing nociception and
by influencing the brain directly. A person’s emotional state, memories, beliefs about pain and expectations
about treatment can all influence how much
pain they experience. In one study, children who reported believing they
had no control over pain actually experienced more intense pain than those who believed they
had some control. Features of the environment matter too: In one experiment, volunteers with a cold rod placed on
the back of their hand reported feeling more pain when they were
shown a red light than a blue one, even though the rod was the same
temperature each time. Finally, social factors like the
availability of family support can affect perception of pain. All of this means that a multi-pronged
approach to pain treatment that includes pain specialists, physical
therapists, clinical psychologists, nurses and other healthcare professionals
is often most effective. We’re only beginning to uncover the
mechanisms behind the experience of pain, but there are some promising
areas of research. Until recently, we thought the glial cells surrounding
neurons were just support structures, but now we know they have a huge role
in influencing nociception. Studies have shown that disabling certain
brain circuits in the amygdala can eliminate pain in rats. And genetic testing in people with
rare disorders that prevent them from feeling pain have pinpointed several other
possible targets for drugs and perhaps eventually gene therapy.

84 thoughts on “The mysterious science of pain – Joshua W. Pate”

  1. my parents said i should look away when im getting a shot, it hurt alot, but when i did the opposite, look at the situation it made me calm and didn't hurt anymuch, it was light pain, also i have a way of cancelling pain and instantly feeling Ok

  2. Sometimes when people talk about certain topics around me, I start feeling nauseous. It usually involved a family member, the hospital, or vaccinations. I don't know why. Please explain.

  3. As someone who has lived with fibromyalgia for many years, this video struck a nerve… err, umm… Hit close to home. It completely makes sense. I just wish some of my doctors (and especially those reviewing disability cases) would understand how this feels. Even if there is no physical cause, the pain is real! And has real effects on life!

  4. Years ago, I was getting ready for a fight and a reporter asked me for my prediction:

    I said, “MY Prediction” – “ PAIN “.

  5. As someone with a chronic pain condition this is very accurate. You definitely experience more pain when your stressed out or you lack a support network of any kind. Also the weather effects it too whenever theres a change in air pressure and precipitation. My pain specialist described it as having the volume nob cranked to max when it comes to pain signals when they reach the brain. Ive been living with this for most of my life and im only 21. Its nice knowing that theres research going into how my condition (fibromyalgia) works and potentially create a way to cure me.

  6. this reminds me of a time when i was helping my dad in an allotment and when when i was using a pitchfork i stabbed my shoe and went straigh through it, it dodnt feel it so i thought i missed and i was able to walk home easily but when i took my shoe off i only realised my entire foot near my toe was a dark red colour and when i removed my sock my nail was destroyed when a deep hole in my big to and only the n was i screaming in pain

  7. The full quote at the start… “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” ― C.S. Lewis
    … interesting choice. A lazy wiki quote, or was it intentional? I love it.

  8. The image of mouse on nails is delusional. The weight gets distributed among nails so each nail is expierencing a little weight. A human won't expierence pain either. Don't create foolish images in scientific playback.

  9. There’s a little dot in the bottom right corner of the video that’s been distracting me the whole time…

  10. I want to know why when u get a little stick in the finger or when u hit the pinky toe in a corner causes more pain than usual

  11. Thank you. I hope I learned something from my affliction… "Men who suffer not, attain no perfection. The plant most pruned by the gardeners is that onewhich, when the summer comes, will have the most beautiful blossoms and the most abundant fruit." ~ Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i Faith

  12. If I remember correctly, I have had 5 needle 10cm in my foot. And they all happened at the same place, each every year.

  13. This is fascinating
    Thank you for helping me fulfill my dreams of becoming a doctor!
    Now…… I only have to graduate and get a doctoring degree

  14. What about depression? How do you know if it is truly it? How do you know how much sadness and the amount of persistent sadness which leads to depression? It varies from person to person right? Then shouldn't the definition of depression vary from person to person?

  15. Video: the more severe the injury is the more pain it should cause"
    Me: oh really? Bumps pinkie toe into table leg INHALES IN PAIN* Well I guess I kinda deserved that…

  16. I think its true theres once time ive got hurt so badly and i didnt realize it until i saw it and then suddenly i felt a horrible pain.

  17. It’s like when someone’s about to hit you and they fake it but you still scream or experience pain.

  18. I mean if you get a third degree burn you might destroy some of your nerves so that although your injury has the tissue burned to the bone, you can’t feel any pain

  19. If anyone has chronic pain issues that aren't responding to treatment and medication management, hit up a Health Psychologist! They will give you viable ways to manage pain, as pain is not simply a physiological experience as highlighted in this video.
    It is actually a combination of biological, psychological and social factors and a Health Psychologist is totally equipped to address your condition taking all of these factors into consideration!

  20. I’ll sure the world what true pain really is; but I need the nine tails, I must have his power in order to achieve my goal

  21. Imagine the sound editing work that had to go into this video…

    Audio Engineer: "Ok Jerry, I need you to scream like your pregnant."
    Jerry: "but I thought I was playing the father, not the pregnant mother"
    Engineer: "You are, but I need you to act like you feel the pain of the pregnant mother"
    Jerry: screams
    Engineer: "No no, you still sound like the mother. It's all wrong"
    Jerry: …

  22. Ted ed how do you know all these things wow you guys are smart And thanks for sharing these stories and facts. I 💗 your vids it inspires me keep sharing things!

  23. why is nobody talking about how actually interesting this is? what he’s saying is you feel pain just because your brain wants you to, is nobody realizing how it means you can theoretically reduce your own pain if you have the will to do it?

  24. I thought about an experiment that I do everytime it’s hot or cold. Everytime it’s hot or cold, I think which power I prefer. Ice control or fire control. When it’s really hot I prefer ice control and the opposite for when it’s really cold.

    Todoroki: …… wait wtf

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