Here are a few pain terms and basic neuroanatomy that you might encounter:
1) Nociception: this is the noxious stimulus which originates from the sensory receptor. Nociception is carried to the Central Nervous System by the primary afferent neuron.
2) Sensory receptors: these are at the ends of sensory nerves. They receive physical or chemical stimuli.
3) Central Nervous System (CNS): this is made of the brain and spinal cord. Sensory impulses are transmitted to it and motor impulses pass out from it. It coordinates the activity of the entire nervous system. It is able to modulate noxious stimulation. This is important as it is this modulation which increases or decreases the perception of pain.
4) Primary afferent neuron: this is a nerve that transmits impulses from receptors to the central nervous system. Efferent neurons transmit signals from the CNS.
5) Axon: this is a nerve fibre. A bundle of many axons form a nerve. This can be sensory or motor.
6) A neuron is a nerve cell.
7) Pain: this is the sensation perceived in the cortex resulting from incoming nociceptive input.
8) Cortex: This is the cerebral cortex, which is the brain’s outer layer of nerve tissue in humans. The cerebral cortex is gray matter. This is where most sensory information is routed to (via the thalamus).