Whether you like it or not, pain is 100% produced in the brain!
Traditionally, pain was thought to be a direct sensation sent from the body to the brain, or from “the bottom up.” In this theory, the spinal cord and brain are simply receivers of the pain messages transmitted from the site of tissue damage by “pain nerve fibers” in the body. This theory assumed a direct relationship with tissue damage and proposed that the greater the amount of tissue damage, the greater the amount of pain. Greater tissue damage would indicate an increased activation of “pain receptors” and create a larger volume of “pain messages” to the brain.
A more contemporary and accurate understanding of pain is one that proposes pain is an output of the central nervous system rather than an input from the peripheral nervous system. This model of pain states that pain isn’t being relayed to the brain, but instead is an experience created by the brain in response to a variety of inputs and influences from the body. Some of these influences include: tissue damage, a person’s expectations, the context of an environment or scenario, one’s current emotional status, beliefs, sleep status and the presence of disease, among others. You will learn a whole lot more about these categories on subsequent pages.