How does a Headache Hurt?

23 January 2012
Presented by Hannah Critchlow.

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This week I'll be getting inside your head..... with a question from Jarraryd Dunn. Plus we'll be asking is there any point in switching off your lights, TVs, and phone chargers during the winter?...

In this episode

00:00 - How does a headache hurt?

If there are no pain receptors in the brain, how can a headache hurt so much?

How does a headache hurt?

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

Peter - Why do headaches hurt when it's 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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