Lost in Translation

In reading Spencer’s recent posts (particularly Part 2, but also Part 1) I am struck by an interesting theme.  The information was there. It was just somehow interpreted wrong and dispersed wrong, or received wrong… like a game of telephone.

Spencer mentions that the IASP definition of pain “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage” is clearly presented in education. Since it is there all along… how does it get lost in translation? Can we blame the NPTE for not asking questions based on the neuromatrix? Can we blame our up-bringing in a culture of structure-based pain? Can we blame our own personal experience with the feeling of pain (well, it was my arm that hurt)?

In any case the foundational knowledge of what pain is, is met with cognitive dissonance by many.  The facts are just so contradictory to our current concept of structure-based pain.

I wish to share how pain is described in a text book, from our curriculum: Bear MF, Connors BW, Paradiso MA. Neuroscience: Exploring the brain, 3rd Ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2007. p 408

“Besides mechanoreceptors, somatic sensation depends strongly on nociceptors, the free, branching, unmyelinated nerve endings that signal that body tissue is being damaged or is at risk of being damaged. (The word is from the Latin nocere, “to hurt”) The information from nociceptos takes a path to the brain that is largely distinct from the path taken by mechanoreceptors; consequently, the subjective experience elicited by activation of these two pathways is different. Selective activation of nociceptors can lead to the conscious experience of pain. Nociception, and pain, are vital to life. It is important to realize, however, that nociception and pain are not the same thing. Pain is the feeling, or the perception, of irritating, sore, stinging, aching, throbbing, miserable, or unbearable sensations arising from a part of the body. Nociception is the sensory process that provides the signals that trigger pain. While nociceptors may fire away wildly and continually, pain may come and go.  The opposite may also happen. Pain may be agonizing, even without activity in nociceptors. More than any other sensory system, the cognitive qualities of nociception can be controlled from within, by the brain itself.”

It’s scientific poetry… and it’s been there all along. Somehow, for the most part, it got lost in translation…

– Matt D

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2 thoughts on “Lost in Translation

  1. Pingback: The Crossroads of Philosophy and Physiology (Part 2): Where We Missed the Mark on Pain Education. | PTbraintrust

  2. Pingback: A Year In Review: II | PTbraintrust

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