How the Brain Shapes Pain and Links Ouch with Emotion

The ouch part of pain begins when something—heat, certain chemicals or a mechanical force—activates special nerve endings called nociceptors. Once they are activated, they trigger a cascade of events with a representation of that signal going through your nerves and into your spinal cord and then to the brain.  And that’s when things get really complex.

Pain signals interact with many different brain areas, including those involved in physical sensation, thinking and emotion.  That leads to all the complexities of what we feel associated that initial hurt.

Having an emotional component linked to the sensory experience is a great memory enhancer. If you touch a hot stove your brain remembers, and you will never do that again.

The link between pain and emotion is a good thing, but sometimes it can also be destructive. Mental health disorders amplify pain. They engage regions of the brain that associate with pain processing, and they can also facilitate rumination and fearful focus on the pain. And when pain doesn’t go away it can cause disabling changes in the brain.  Pain is a danger signal, but once pain becomes chronic these pain signals no longer serve a useful purpose. Over time, these signals can lead to problems like depression, anxiety and stress, but it’s often possible to break that cycle by learning techniques that help pain patients gain some control of the way their brains are processing pain signals. For example, a state of relaxation is an antidote to the hard-wired pain responses that are automatically triggered by the experience of pain.

For some patient techniques like these can provide an alternative to pain drugs, including opioids. And for pain patients who rely on medications, psychological therapies can often help the drugs work better.

Update as of 3/23/2020


The physicians of Legacy Spine and Neurological Specialists are fully committed to continuing to offer care to all our patients in the safest possible manner for our staff and all our patients, as well as all the entire population of our state, during this unprecedented healthcare crisis our nation is facing at this time.   Social distancing is the most important method of trying to slow the spread of this pandemic. Therefore starting 3/23/2020 we are closed. You may call 501-661-0077 or continue to our website and use our securing messaging system.


As of 3/30/202 we will offer Telehealth consultations for new and existing patients in accordance with the requests of President Trump and Governor Hutchinson.   We will do the very best we can To arrive at a diagnosis and treatment plan for your issues via Telehealth. Most non urgent in person care will be explained and planned for but delayed until the social distancing is no longer appropriate for your condition. We will be offering in person care for only for limited urgent issues including selected spinal And cranial procedures.


Our MRI will be used with the greatest of preventative caution and in strict adherence of social distancing for our patients and staff.


Please be patient with any inconveniences during this period of time. We hope that all will join us in prayer for a full recovery for all Across the entire world afflicted with the Covid 19 and that we will this invisible war ASAP, and for the souls of those who have lost the battle!   God Bless America and the World!