Pain Anatomy 101: How Pain Works, And How Your Subconscious May Be Able to Short-Circuit It


In building a strategy for pain relief it may be helpful to understand how pain works. Here's a quick primer to help you grasp the mechanics, and show you the points where your subconscious may be able to intervene to relieve your pain.

Science doesn't fully understand how pain signals are generated in the periphery of the body and transmitted to the brain. But it knows the major mechanisms well enough to be able to identify a number of weak points where the signals could be reduced or interrupted. These can be referred to as pain leverage points.

Here's a recap of our understanding of the process based on publicly available information. It's a great oversimplification, and may not occur in all cases. But it gives you a general idea of what's happening.

This mechanism seems to be operating in back pain or pain in other extremities, arthritis pain, fibromyalgia pain, or neuropathic pain (nerve pain).

Please note that we are not medical professionals and do not provide medical or health care advice. For medical advice, please see your physician.

Note also that the material in this article is provided to help you understand the details of the pain process and how you can attempt to relieve pain by using your subconscious. But this information is optional - you don't need to read or understand any of it before attempting to use your subconscious to ease pain.

A Three-Stage Process

In general, pain signals move through three steps. Each of these steps is performed by a different type of nerve cell, or neuron:

• Stage 1: The pain signal begins in the periphery of the body--the skin, the lower back, anyplace that receives a painful stimulus. In Stage 1, Level 1 neurons pick up the signal and send it to the spinal cord for processing.

• Stage 2: In Stage 2, Level 2 neurons in the spinal cord make modifications to the signal. Here the signal can be radically increased. The Level 2 neurons send the modified signal to the thalamus, the pain processing center in the brain, but at this point you don't yet feel any pain.

• Stage 3: In Stage 3, Level 3 neurons in the brain move the signal from the thalamus to the cortex, where you finally experience it as pain.

Neurons are extremely long. A single Level 1 cell can stretch from your big toe to your spine. A single Level 2 cell can reach from your spine all the way up to the thalamus in your brain. And a single Level 3 cell in the brain can reach from the thalamus to the cortex.

The Role of Visualization Statements

We strive to use visualization statements to help the subconscious reduce the pain signal at 12 different leverage points along its 3-stage pathway.

Visualization statements represent the specific language that your subconscious wants you to read back to it to help ease your pain. They're simple and are targeted directly at the main factors that could bring you relief.

You can obtain these statements by learning how to communicate directly with your own subconscious mind. The process is straightforward and can be done at home by working with a facilitator over the telephone. You you need no special skills and no previous experience in working with the subconscious.

Stage 1 (Periphery to Spinal Cord): It's All About Inflammation

The body's first response to painful stimulation is usually inflammation. Pain from this source can occur for the following reasons:

• Prostaglandins. Most often inflammation is generated by hormone-like prostaglandins that are released at the site of injury or other stimulus. These chemicals inflame the two main kinds of Level 1 neurons: (1) C-fibers, thin bundles of neurons that need strong stimulation to fire, and don't identify the location of the pain very well. (2) A-beta fibers, thick bundles of neurons that fire from either light or strong stimulation, and pinpoint the exact location of the pain.

• Substance P. Normally pain signals are carried towards the brain, but in chronic pain the signals can get reversed and be carried back down into the body. If this applies to you, your body could be releasing a protein called substance P, powerfully inflaming nerve endings in some locations.

• Ion Channels. The pain signals from the above two sources of inflammation can be made worse if ion channels have forced openings in the nerve cell walls. These openings allow an abnormal increase of pain chemicals to move into the neuron. Ion channels are potentially a problem in all three stages on the pain signal pathway.

Prostaglandins, substance P, and ion channels can all be addressed using visualization statements. It's possible that this may help to reduce inflammation in Stage 1.

Stage 2 (Spinal Cord to Thalamus): The Source of Major Pain

When you have chronic pain, a series of events can occur in Stage 2 to radically increase the pain signal:

• Ion Channels. Ion channels may be allowing an unusually large amount of pain chemicals to move into the Stage 2 nerve cells (see Stage 1 above).

• Interneuron Windup. Normally C-fibers and A-beta fibers don't talk to each other very much. But in chronic pain they may--the repetitive firing of C-fibers can super-sensitize the big A-beta fibers. In turn, the A-betas trigger the first Level 2 neurons they find, the interneurons, to fire uncontrollably--even long after the stimulus is shut off. This is called interneuron windup and greatly increases the pain signal.

• NMDA Activation. Interneurons connect Level 1 to Level 2 neurons. When they send a strong pain signal to the main Level 2 nerve cells, glutamate is released and a powerful protein called NMDA is activated. This ratchets pain up to a new level, and makes possible the next two events, which together can produce devastating pain.

• MAPK Activation. Activated NMDA can cause MAPK (mitogen-activated protein kinase) to be released. This protein has been called the master control switch of nerve-injury pain. MAPK causes more and more pain-generating chemicals such as glutamate to be produced, and at the same time increases the sensitivity of pain receptors to those very chemicals.

• Long Level 2 Neuron Windup. Once MAPK is activated you need less and less glutamate to experience a given level of pain. This form of windup starts a vicious cycle of less glutamate and more pain that causes long Level 2 neurons to fire out of control, creating overwhelming pain.

Because Stage 2 is where really serious pain begins, many visualization statements are generated here. They address ion channels, interneuron windup, NMDA and MAPK activation, and long level 2 neuron windup, possibly helping to relieve pain.

Stage 3 (Thalamus to Cortex): Driving the Pain Home

If the signal leaves the Level 2 neurons with NMDA activated and long Level 2 neurons in windup, a strong pain signal is transmitted to your Level 3 nerve cells. If ion channels exist in Level 3 neurons, the signal can be made even more intense.

In Stage 3, the signal that arrived at the thalamus from Stage 2 is processed and then forwarded on to the cerebral cortex. Once the signal reaches the cortex you experience the full force of the pain.

Visualizations at this stage that address ion channels and the thalamus may help to ease pain.

Limiting the Transmission of Pain Emotion Signals

The emotional signals associated with your pain are transmitted to your brain using different signal pathways from those described above. Like the pain channels themselves, the pain emotion conduits have leverage points where it may be possible to reduce the signal. Visualizations targeted at each of those points may possibly help to reduce the emotional suffering that goes along with chronic pain.

Engaging the Subconscious

The subconscious is quite powerful. When programmed through the very visualizations that it suggests, it may be able to turn episodes of uncontrolled pain into events over which you have a degree of control.

Ben Plumb is CEO and President of The Visualization Group, Inc. The company's service is delivered by people like himself who personally suffered from years of chronic pain, and used the visualization method described in this article to obtain relief when nothing else worked.


More Resources

Dandelions! This Common Weed is a Wonderful Spring Tonic
Those Glorious Dandelions! Taraxacum officinale (composite family)Spring is coming! Starting about this time every year I find myself craving bitter flavors. My body is longing to cleanse itself of toxins accumulated over a long winter of holiday indulgence, rich foods and various colds & flus.
Aromatherapy
Although the word aromatherapy has not been around forever, the use of plants, herbs, fruits and flowers for healing have been centuries long. Aromatherapy is still being researched today for it's wide variety of uses, including the healing effects that is has on the body.
Aloe Vera, an Alternative That Will Improve Your Looks and Your Outlook
Do you remember your teen years? Remember that schoolmate that had a less than perfect complexion and always seemed to be the object of cruel comments? Sure, you can relate to what I'm saying! Perhaps it was even you at the receiving end of those comments. Unfortunate as it may be, as a teenager, our outward appearance plays a vital role in issues of self-esteem.
Natural Smoothie Formula to Stop Constipation and Acne
Here is how to build a natural smoothie that can stop constipation, relieve acne, improve your skin and give you more energy. The smoothie base is a liquid slurry that can be used to add more natural ingredients.
Manipulate The Body And Mind With A Portable Massage Table
A portable massage table can be very essential tool. Massage therapy is a hands-on manipulation of the soft tissue and joints of the body and using a portable massage table can make giving and receiving a massage that much easier.
The Secret Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) has been used for thousands of years for a variety of healing purposes. In fact, there are references to it in the Bible as a powerful healing agent.
Use Fresh Herbs In Your Cooking
Many common herbs that you might use in cooking are well known for there healing properties. Using them in cooking is a great way to incorporate the healing attributes of natural herbs with your meals.
When Your Emotions Become Like Ticking Bombs & Cause Disease
So, where does disease come from? How does it get manifested in your body in the first place? Do environment and diet really play key roles in causing disease? Well, the information contained in this article will shock you to say the least. For years now health officials have told the public about how diet and environment specifically contribute to most illnesses.
Neroli: The Fragrance that Exudes Contentment
One whiff of this unique fragrance will be enough to make anyone feel immensely contented. Particularly effective for insomnia and depression, it lingers in the air, leaving a sweet exquisite scent behind.
Home Saunas and Kits: Benefits, Pre-Planning, and Purchasing Tips
For quite some time now home saunas have gained massive popularity across the United States. A tradition first followed by the Finns about a thousand years back, the benefits of saunas have caught on in the United States with a lot of acclaim and acceptance.
What are Some Benefits For Quitting Smoking?
There are immediate benefits for quitting smoking. Within eight hours after you quit, the level of dangerous carbon monoxide gas in the blood returns to normal.
Dangers of Dehydration - And The Importance of Kidney Cleansing
The human body is composed of 75 percent water and 25 percent solid matter. To provide nourishment, eliminate waste and regulate all the functions in the body, we need water.
Prevent Disease By Thinking Differently Than Experts
Did you know that all physicians and medical researchers have been indoctrinated with a flawed model of thinking dating to the 17th century?These "experts" cling to a Cartesian model of thinking.Cartesian refers to the philosopher Descartes who declared, "I do not recognize any difference between the machines made by craftsmen and various bodies nature alone composes.
History of Essential Oils
Extracted from botanicals, that is, from plants and trees. They are part of the plants immune system processed by distillation but others such as the citrus oils may be extracted in different ways.
An Introduction to Bach Flower Essences Part II - The Seven Helpers
The 12-7-19 Method of Bach Flower ClassificationDr. Edward Bach, developer of flower essence therapy, classified the original 38 essences he used in his practice according to the 12-7-19 method: the Twelve Healers, the Seven Helpers, and the Second Nineteen.
Hemorrhoids Remedy: Practical Diet Tips, Toilet Habits And Exercise To Prevent Hemorrhoid Symptoms
Some people say that prevention is better than cure. That is a wise statement indeed.
As The Primary Care Giver for an Alzheimer's Patient, How Can I Get a Break?
Taking care of a loved one who has Alzheimer's is a huge responsibility and very time consuming. It can bring a lot of stress, frustration and more.
Reduce the Effects of Fears and Phobias with Hypnosis
Hypnosis is very useful in the treatment of fears and phobias. Hypnosis is perfectly natural and allows you to experience deep physical and mental relaxation.
Holistic Methods: Hemp Seed Oil and Aromatherapy in Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Aromatherapy is a well known holistic method for healing, but when boosted by the quickly penetrating carrier hemp seed oil, the healing potential is magnified exponentially. No other carrier oil can take the beneficial medicinal qualities of aromatic essential oils as quickly through the epidermis as hemp seed oil, so if your lotions and salves are missing it, you're not doing your body justice, but it's not too late?.
Ive Given Away Control of My Life To Doctors-and Now I Want It Back.
But How Realistic Is It For You To Start Managing Your Own Pain Using the Mind-Body Connection?If you're fed up with the callous treatment, invasive procedures, and under-medication that some doctors provide, you're not alone. But be cautious before you totally embrace a natural approach.

More Alternative Information:

Related Articles

Why Are Organic Bedding and Organic Cotton Products More Expensive?
At first glance it may seem strange that natural and organic bedding products, without industrial chemicals, toxins and pesticides, should cost more than conventional bedding.Remember that industrialization over the past century was developed to produce products as cheaply as possible, and as quickly as possible, for maximum profit.
How to Avoid Potentially Harmful Chemicals in Your Area Rugs and Other Home Furnishings
You purchase a beautiful area rug. You know just where it will go within your home.
Is Green Tea Good for Me?
Scientific studies continue to show that green tea is good for you.Tea began its illustrious history as a Chinese medicinal drink, and only gradually did it become the popular beverage that it is today.
Citronnelle
Remember the last Dumpling Festival? Did your mother or grandmother hang a pair of small bundle of sweet-scented grass in the morning on top of the door? Did they claim that the grass has the power to dispel evil when you use the water boiled with the leave for bathing? Did you remember the distinct, unmistakable lemon-like fragrance that left you feeling very invigorated? That leaf is none other than Citronnelle.Description of CitronnelleLike lemongrass and rosemary, citronnelle also belongs to the grass family, which is rich in essential oil.
3 Quick Herbal Remedies
In recent years the issue of Alternative Healing has skyrocketed to the forefront of the medical field. A 2004 government survey concluded that more than one third of adults use alternative medicine and healing.
What is Sound Therapy?
As energetic beings, our electromagnetic energy field (aura) vibrates at specific frequencies. When there is an energy distortion, clutter, blockage, etc, the vibration of the energy field gets clogged, bogged down and heavy.
Secrets Of Aromatherapy Part I - Physical Remedies
Aromatherapy can be used to relieve the discomfort of awide range of minor physical complaints including burns,colds, flu, sinus problems, cold sores, eczema, headache,indigestion, menopause, menstrual irregularities, muscleaches, nausea and toothaches.Diluted in healing carrier oil such as aloe vera,essential oils can relieve the pain of minor burns.
Oregano Supplements : An Effective Natural Treatment for Fungus and Other Ailments
What's the big deal with oregano? Many of you have eaten foods containing oregano, or even sprinkled it on your pizza, without knowing its healing powers. In a comparative research, oregano topped the list of healthy herbs according to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Understanding Herbology
The use of herbs as early forms of medicine or healing aid dates back centuries, as far back as the Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, East Indian, Chinese, and many South American Cultures. Herbs are generally safe and like warm sunshine, natural and beneficial to mind, body and spirit, not to mention affordable compared to prescription medicine.
Neroli: The Fragrance that Exudes Contentment
One whiff of this unique fragrance will be enough to make anyone feel immensely contented. Particularly effective for insomnia and depression, it lingers in the air, leaving a sweet exquisite scent behind.
Healing the Body & Mind - The Karma of Health
Within each one of us resides the divine healer. All healings come from within and not outside.
Which to Use When: Ice or Heat?
Knee pain after running? Wake up with a backache? Twist an ankle?When aches, pain, strains or swelling take place due to an injury or chronic condition, what is the best course of action: ice or heat? Many people automatically assume heat will ease their discomfort. Think again!Ice and heat have opposite effects when dealing with inflammation and pain.
Health Benefits of Tea
Tea: It Does the Body GoodStudies that support the health benefits of tea drinking keep filling the headlines. There's simply no denying that a daily spot of tea does the body good.
Improving Your Body Immune System
The immune system in your body is an amazing functionality that produces antibodies to fight against any infections whether it is bacterial, fungal, or cancers. Any micro organism that invades our body is kept under check and it is destroyed by the immune system in our body.
You Can Stop Biting Your Nails, Heres How!
Are you tired of being self-conscious about your hands and nails? I know exactly what you're going through because I've been there. Did you notice I said, "I've been there".
Cleaners And Our Health
Many people use strong cleaners or acid cleaners to make the house clean and to get hard to clean stains out, but people don't realize that many cleaners are bad for our health they contain ingredient that irritate the skin and the fumes that those cleaner produce are dangerous if we inhale them.Many people suffer from asthma and other respiratory problems and using those type of cleaners in a place not well ventilated can be harmful for the health.
Headache, Hypnosis, And Stress, A Case History
Now, more that ever, concerned physicians are beginning to ask about and understand the role of non-drug therapies to assist patients with headache. These therapies, alone or in combination with medications can significantly impact on headache treatment.
The Whys and Habits of Anxiety & Panic Disorder
Just about everyone asks themselves why? Why did I get this?And chances are, you probably already have a fair idea of what possibly triggered it.I know for myself, I had a medical condition that played a huge factor into my trigger.
How to Clean-up Your Allergies with 2 Easy Home Tips
It's that time of year again when people who have allergies complain about nasal congestion, coughing, and wheezing, itching, shortness of breath, headache, fatigue, hives and other skin rashes. Many people experience allergies due to pollens from outdoors combined with foods and indoor stagnant air carrying dust, mold, and other air pollutants.
Pa-Kua Feng Shui Basics
FENG SHUI BASICSFeng Shui (literally "Wind and Water" in Chinese), is all about balance and harmony between us and our environment. Just like the Yin and Yang energies, Feng Shui is about balance.