“Pain endings”, “pain transmission” and “pain pathways” – these terms are in wide use by health professionals, including scientists who should know better. It really drives us crazy in the education and clinical world and it must be unhelpful for patients as there is no such thing as pain endings, pain transmission and pain pathways.
These terms suggests that pain has a source in body tissues which often leads to repeated and excessive diagnostic and therapeutic hunts for culpable structures in tissue. It denies the role of the brain in pain construction and I believe enhances chronic pain and makes it more difficult to manage.
Nociception, nociceptive pathways and transmission of nociception are the correct terms. Nociception is not pain, it is not a necessary requirement for pain, sometimes the brain will evaluate it, weigh up what else is going on and construct pain.
If you believe in pain endings and pain pathways from tissues you may also believe in love endings, love pathways and love transmission from the genitals.
Feel free to name anywhere the error has been made. I probably made the error a while back. This may be one of the best things we can do for the world’s chronic pain epidemic.
Here is a start:
Wikipedia has the error “A free nerve ending (FNE) is an unspecialized, afferent nerve ending, meaning it brings information from the body’s periphery toward the brain. They function as cutaneous receptors are essentially used by vertebrates to detect pain”
WebMD has the error in the otherwise great section on fibromyalgia. “there are roughly 20 different kinds of nerve endings in your skin that tell you if something is hot, cold, or painful”
The error is most dangerous when it is in children’s science websites. Comments like “pain travels up…” are common
Just Google the terms, read the literature – the errors are everywhere.
Let us know your finds.