There Is No Pain Without the Brain
When we were very young, all the way up to mature age, we often experienced the power of our brain when it comes to protecting us. Every time we got burnt, we cut or hurt ourselves in an abrupt way, we noticed how our hand has retracted itself before we managed to be exposed to further damage. Or perhaps, while we were walking, driving a motorbike or a bicycle, a bug rushed straight into our eyes, but the eye lids miraculously shut themselves the second before, protecting us. All this is triggered by our very brain, calculating the inevitable danger and reacting before we are even aware.
However, the painful experiences such as managing to get burnt before your brain stopped you, may all teach you not to do that in the future. However, our brain still works in ways we are not able to understand, and numerous actions of it are quite a mystery. For example, people who have lost a limb, due to a disease, or an injury, often complain how they feel constant pain in the area where their limb has been before. Also, some might feel constant, chronic pain without any specific reasons. All this takes place due to certain nerve complications, some greater than the other.
The Lost Connection
Researching the issue of chronic pain in limbs that no longer exist, doctors have found out remarkable results. Namely, with those people who feel pain in limbs which have been amputated beforehand there has been a significant faulty change in the nervous system and the brain itself. Areas in one's brain which were in charge of, for example, arm movement and functions, get vacant since there is no longer an arm to control. These areas, however, remain connected with the pain receptors, even though the physical extremity is no longer present, thus emitting chronic pain. Further on, our entire nervous system tries to cope with its loss, and sometimes, in these situations, adequate recovery and reorganization is not possible. Rather mistakes are made and thus, due to this “short-circuits” pain gets present.
The Memory of Pain
Interestingly enough, even we do not, our brain remembers every time we experienced serious pain. Therefore, in cases of limb loss the pain may not be lost, since the brain had already remembered it permanently. Doctors have discovered that this pain memories can be suppressed by cognitive therapy, certain medications and timely reaction thus disabling the further, chronic pain. The treatment may also involve mounting a prosthetic arm or leg. This process has proven the decline in pain since the patient's brain may perceive the artificial limb as a real one. Also, numerous electrical stimuli may be applied to the remaining nerves which were once in charge of one's hand. This can also cause pain to decrease. Even though these present major steps in our knowledge of our own brain, there is much more to be done since numerous things are still mysteries.