Paracetamol For A Broken Heart: 11 Facts About Pain

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Paracetamol For A Broken Heart: 11 Facts About Pain
Paracetamol For A Broken Heart: 11 Facts About Pain

Video: Paracetamol For A Broken Heart: 11 Facts About Pain

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Video: How to Deal with the Unbearable Pain of Heartbreak (Matthew Hussey \u0026 Guy Winch) 2023, January

The sensation of pain is not always preceded by physical impact. - it hurts not only when falling on the asphalt from a bicycle, but also after betrayal or loss of a loved one. Although there is little enjoyment in it, pain is an important evolutionary mechanism that protects us from injury, cementing the experience as negative. The extreme subjectivity of pain complicates research, but the existing work on the topic is sufficient to provide answers to the main questions. Understanding how pain sensitivity works and what scientists say about it.

Text: Marina Levicheva


Why does pain occur?

Pain is controlled by the nervous system, which consists of the central (brain and spinal cord) and peripheral (sensory and motor nerves). To know for sure that we are interacting with something potentially dangerous, the brain is helped by pain receptors - nociceptors. They are activated every time the tissues are sufficiently compressed. Therefore, pain occurs when you hit the table with your fist, but it is not felt when you hit the pillow with the same fist.

The reaction to danger can be an instant urge to move away from it, for example, to pull your hand away from a hot one. This is how reflexes work. However, if the person has had time to burn themselves, the pain will continue. When a signal reaches the brain, it is sent to several different areas in the cerebral cortex for interpretation. It turns out where the pain came from, whether it was similar to what the person experienced before, and if so, what kind of pain it was this time - better or worse. The limbic system then forms its own response, which is why one pain makes us cry, another makes us angry, and another makes us sweat.

What pain can be

Traditionally, two types of pain are distinguished: nociceptive (that caused by local tissue damage and impact on pain receptors) and neuropathic (associated with changes in the work of the system that perceives and interprets pain signals). But there is a third type, psychogenic pain, which is sometimes referred to as “other”. We are talking about sensations that are not associated with pathological processes in the body and are provoked exclusively by psychological factors.

An interesting fact: such a common type of pain as migraine still cannot be classified. While some experts consider it a complex neuropathy, others - something in between nociceptive and neuropathic pain. Sometimes pain is also divided into somatic (skin, muscles, bones and joints) and visceral (internal organs). And directly in the diagnosis, pain is defined as acute or chronic.

Why is there so much talk about chronic pain?

Chronic pain is considered to be pain that lasts at least 12 weeks. Unlike acute pain, it does not arise as a response to a threat to survival and has no useful purpose at all. At the same time, chronic pain is noted in more than one and a half billion people worldwide, and women, smokers and people with a weight exceeding the medical standard are at risk.

In terms of treatment, scientists continue to search for alternatives to opioids that can become addictive and addictive over time. And there is progress in this matter: the potential is demonstrated, for example, by the effect on certain parts of the brain with the help of electrodes and injections of Botox. In addition, there is evidence that placebo works almost better than actual therapy for chronic pain. The problem is that this method seems to be effective only for people with a certain brain structure.


The most common and strongest

The most common are back pain, headaches, joint pain and neuropathic pain (pinching of the sciatic nerve, carpal tunnel syndrome, and some others).As for the worst pain, despite its reputation, pain women experience in childbirth did not make it to the NHS list. Among the “maximally limiting” conditions, along with gout, endometriosis, and fibromyalgia, included kidney stones, bone fractures, and appendicitis.

Phantom Pain

Patients after limb amputation often report that they continue to feel a lost arm or leg. Moreover, they not only feel her presence, but are faced with pain that interferes with normal life. Scientists believe that this is due to maladaptive plasticity of the brain - a situation where changes in the brain lead to a negative result, a kind of error in the program.

For a long time, there were no effective ways to work with phantom pain, and patients were generally recommended cognitive-behavioral therapy. However, in 2018, Swedish professor Max Ortiz Catalan suggested using virtual reality glasses to relieve symptoms, taking as a basis the hypothesis that pain in an amputated limb can be provoked by neurons left idle, which are turned on randomly.

So Catalan and his team created the Phantom Motor Execution (PME) augmented reality system, which captures electrical signals intended for a missing limb, and then displays a full picture on the screen. Moreover, the patient not only sees himself on the screen with a hand or leg, but can move it and even wiggle his fingers. It is difficult to say when the system will begin to be widely used, but the test results are promising.

Why does a broken heart really hurt

Brain imaging shows that when we look at pictures of our ex-lovers who initiated the breakup, the same parts of the brain that work when we feel physical pain are activated. This applies not only to a romantic relationship, but also to the loss of a friend or even a colleague.

Perhaps human evolutionary need for social connections has led to the fact that the brain does not always distinguish between physical and emotional pain. This is supported by the fact that people who took paracetamol for several weeks in one experiment reported less daily “social pain” than those who did not.

Ending a relationship with someone we trusted and spent enough time with inevitably becomes stressful for us. And stressful overload, doctors remind, for people with poor health can turn into a "broken heart syndrome" - quite a physical (and very dangerous) condition with sharp chest pains and shortness of breath.


How pain relievers work

Even Neanderthals used pain relievers - they chewed poplar bark, which contains salicylic acid (a substance related to aspirin). Today, scientists, realizing the need, are working on more and more progressive drugs: for example, pain relievers, which will be 100 times stronger than morphine, but eliminate the risk of addiction.

How does the pill know where it hurts? She doesn't know (at least at first). Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, the most popular class of pain relievers, are absorbed into the bloodstream and are sent in search of cyclooxygenase, an enzyme released when cells are damaged. By binding to it, the drug reduces the production of inflammation-promoting molecules, prostaglandins, and the pain gradually subsides. In turn, opioids, which are used to treat severe pain, first block the transmission of pain signals to the brain, and then change the interpretation of pain by working directly with neurons.

Strange ways to deal with pain

Experiments show that pain relievers are not the only drugs that can cope with minor pain.When consumed in this sense, ginger and turmeric may be effective, and when applied topically, patches and gels with capsaicin, the main component of red pepper.

The child's habit of holding mom's hand when taking blood or giving an injection has quite a scientific basis. Because of the synchronization of heart rate and breathing rate, the pain actually gets weaker. And this alternative pain relief option is far less controversial than beer, which some researchers believe may work better than paracetamol.

Pain threshold, pain scale and pain blood test

People differ not only in their ability to interpret pain, but also in their ability to tolerate it. What we know as pain threshold is 60% genetically determined. Although gender, age and lifestyle characteristics seem to matter here. For example, babies feel pain four times more than adults, women experience more pain than men, and lack of sleep makes everyone, without exception, more susceptible to pain.

The tool that doctors today use to assess the severity of a problem is called the pain scale. But, perhaps, the methods will soon become more accurate. In an effort to add some objectivity to pain assessments, Indiana University School of Medicine found markers in the blood that could indicate how much pain a person is experiencing. In addition to the assessment itself, a blood test for pain can help determine if a patient is at risk for developing chronic pain.

Is it real not to feel pain at all

Congenital insensitivity to pain (hereditary sensory autonomic neuropathy) is a rare genetic condition that deprives a person of the ability to perceive physical pain. But while this may seem like a superpower, people with an innate insensitivity to pain - roughly a million people worldwide - are actually at risk. This happened, for example, with Stefan Betz, whose insensitivity was diagnosed after he bit off a piece of his own tongue at the age of five. Stefan, like Ashlyn Blocker, has a mutation in the SCN9A gene associated with the transmission of pain signals. The girl got two copies of the damaged gene at once - one from each of the parents. And the reason that almost all members of the Italian family Marsilis do not feel pain in fractures is a mutation in the ZFHX2 gene.

Can you feel another person's pain?

Mirror touch synesthesia (or mirror synesthesia) is a special neurological characteristic that causes a person to feel physical and / or emotional changes in the body of the person they are touching. Dr. Joel Salinas, who has decided to use his synesthesia to heal people, admits that it can be quite exhausting. A girl with mirrored synesthesia who doesn't stop laughing when someone tickles nearby will surely agree with this. The mechanism of mirror synesthesia is associated with the increased functionality of mirror neurons, which usually turn on when we observe the activity of another person - and research into this phenomenon continues.

PHOTOS: Walter Cicchetti -, supachai -, Elena -


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