We have all experienced some level of physical pain in our life, ranging from a simple pinch to bone-breaking, tissue-tearing, excruciating pain. When we feel that sensation of pain, what is actually happening at the chemical level within our body? As children, the majority of us believe that pain happens at the epidermis level because we can see an injury or believe we feel it on our skin, even though it may be at a deeper level. The older we get the, more educated we become and learn that pain is a response from the brain to the location of the injury. It still seems unfathomable that we can touch a hot surface, for example, and receive a response back from our brain so quickly to remove our hand because it hurts. Exactly what is going on within our body to keep ourselves safe or respond to injury?
When the body endures an injury, there are so many things that happen in response. There is the vascular reaction that is responsible for vasoconstriction, vasodilatation and edema formation. Vasoconstriction is the narrowing of the blood vessels so that the flow of blood is restricted or slowed. The blood pressure is also increased. Whereas vasodilatation is the widening of blood vessels, allowing more blood through and reducing blood pressure (NIH, 2013). Edema formation is the collection of fluid around the injury site and is what is known as swelling to the surrounding area (NCBI, 2013). At the cellular level, platelets convene at the injury site to allow coagulation of the blood to occur so that there is not continual bleeding. While coagulation is occurring, the white blood cells (WBC’s), respond as well to ward off any pathogen that may be trying to enter through the wound site. The white blood cells that are most commonly involved in this process are neutrophils, monocytes and lymphocytes. Neutrophils are the most common of the WBC’s and are the first ones to respond to the site of an injury. They are the first defense against any bacteria trying to enter...
References: "Vasoconstriction: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia." National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Mar. 2013.
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