Detailed guides to painful problems, treatments & more

Stepping on Lego 

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

“Don’t mislabel nociceptors as pain fibres.”

Dr. Lorimer Moseley on teaching pain science, BMJ Talk Medicine podcast

Some excellent audio content here for pros and keen patients here. Dr. Lorimer Moseley is a real pretty talker. In a nutshell, here’s what he’s going on about …

If you step on a Lego piece with a bare foot, threat-detection nerves (nociceptors) send data about the incident to the brain, and the brain considers it briefly and always decides that there is a lot of danger, and pain is what we feel when the brain thinks there’s danger. And the brain always thinks that about lego underfoot. Stepping on Lego is something the brain takes very seriously.

But it isn’t pain until the brain says so. Nothing ever is.

So, nociceptors are not “pain fibres” — they are information fibres. It took me a while, but somewhere around 2012 I started cringing every time I saw that mistake. Lots of cringing ever since. It’s a really common mistake.