Nociception… what is it and why should you care?

Inside our bodies, we have these receptors (nociceptors) that sense movement, chemical and temperature changes. Why is this important? Because they tell us what is happening with our bodies and can be a very integral piece to explaining your current level of pain.

When changes in temperature, pressure, or movement are sensed, the receptors send signals to the spinal cord and up to the brain. The brain then gets to determine if it is a potential threat or not and take action. For example, if you place your hand near a hot stove, the receptors sense the heat, send the signal to the spinal cord then up to the brain. The signal is processed as threatening, it is sent down from the brain to the spinal cord to the receptors and tell your arm to pull your hand away. This is a normal and accurate response. However, sometimes these signals get crossed.

You can think of the spinal cord as a switchboard operator and the brain as the boss. All incoming calls are screened by the operator based on what the boss says are important (threatening) or not, some calls go to the boss, some don’t. When the boss or brain says that all calls are very important, the switchboard operator can begin confusing the incoming calls that are normally just categorized as pressure or movement and categorize them as threatening and painful. We now begin to sense normal things like pressure as pain and threatening. Our bodies get better at thinking we need protection and improve our ability to feel pain. However, if we can re-wire some of those crossed lines, we can attempt to improve the brains understanding of the normal signals, like pressure, and not interpret them as pain.

This is an important concept to comprehend because it can help you understand the some of the reason behind your symptoms that you are feeling. Do you want to learn more about pain? Stay tuned for future blog posts or message me directly at


Greg Lehman – Recovery Strategies Pain Guidebook. (

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