Science Questions

How does a headache hurt?

Sun, 22nd Jan 2012

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Question

Jarryd Dunn asked:

Dear Dr Smith

 

I have always been told that there are no pain receptors in your brain.

So what I would like to know is why does in feel like the pain is inside my head when I have a head ache.

 

From Jarryd Dunn

 

 

Answer

We posed this question to Peter McNaughton from the University of Cambridge...

Peter -   Why do headaches hurt when itís well-known that brain tissue itself is not sensitive to pain?  Well the answer is in the meninges which are the rather tough bag which surrounds the brain. During a headache, which is caused perhaps by a viral infection or perhaps by having too much to drink, the meninges become inflamed. The pounding of the blood through the blood vessels in the meninges causes the headache to hurt.  So the short answer is that the reason the headache hurts is because of the meninges which are liberally innervated with pain sensitive nerve fibres rather than the brain hurts. The brain itself has no pain sensitive nerve fibres at all.

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While there are no pain receptors in your brain, there are ones in the dura the covering of the brain.  in other parts of the body, such as the abdomen, pain can be caused by the stretching of the nerves or exposure to chemicals released by damaged cells.  if there is swelling in the blood vessels of the dura, that could cause pain. 2dogmom, Mon, 16th Jan 2012

hangover involves dehydration of the fluid around the brain & water rehydrates fluid so i guess the brain is pushing on the nerves outside the brain 4 the pain CZARCAR, Tue, 17th Jan 2012

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